LIGHT is a new member of tumor necrosis factor (TNF) cytokine family derived from an activated T cell cDNA library. LIGHT mRNA is highly expressed in splenocytes, activated PBL, CD8(+) tumor infiltrating lymphocytes, granulocytes, and monocytes but not in the thymus and the tumor cells examined. Introduction of LIGHT cDNA into MDA-MB-231 human breast carcinoma caused complete tumor suppression in vivo. Histological examination showed marked neutrophil infiltration and necrosis in LIGHT expressing but not in the parental or the Neo-transfected MDA-MB-231 tumors. Interferon gamma (IFNgamma) dramatically enhances LIGHT-mediated apoptosis. LIGHT protein triggers apoptosis of various tumor cells expressing both lymphotoxin beta receptor (LTbetaR) and TR2/HVEM receptors, and its cytotoxicity can be blocked specifically by addition of a LTbetaR-Fc or a TR2/HVEM-Fc fusion protein. However, LIGHT was not cytolytic to the tumor cells that express only the LTbetaR or the TR2/HVEM or hematopoietic cells examined that express only the TR2/HVEM, such as PBL, Jurkat cells, or CD8(+) TIL cells. In contrast, treatment of the activated PBL with LIGHT resulted in release of IFNgamma. Our data suggest that LIGHT triggers distinct biological responses based on the expression patterns of its receptors on the target cells. Thus, LIGHT may play a role in the immune modulation and have a potential value in cancer therapy.