Knock-out of the neural death effector domain protein PEA-15 demonstrates that its expression protects astrocytes from TNFalpha-induced apoptosis.
Apoptosis is a very general phenomenon, but only a few reports concern astrocytes. Indeed, astrocytes express receptors for tumor necrosis factor (TNF) alpha, a cytokine demonstrated on many cells and tissues to mediate apoptosis after recruitment of adaptor proteins containing a death effector domain (DED). PEA-15 is a DED-containing protein prominently expressed in the CNS and particularly abundant in astrocytes. This led us to investigate if PEA-15 expression could be involved in astrocytic protection against deleterious effects of TNF. In vitro assays evidence that PEA-15 may bind to DED-containing protein FADD and caspase-8 known to be apical adaptors of the TNF apoptotic signaling. After generation of PEA-15 null mutant mice, our results demonstrate that PEA-15 expression increases astrocyte survival after exposure to TNF.