The ectodermal dysplasia receptor (EDAR) is a recently isolated member of the tumor necrosis factor receptor family that has been shown to play a key role in the process of ectodermal differentiation. We present evidence that EDAR is capable of activating the nuclear factor-kappaB, JNK, and caspase-independent cell death pathways and that these activities are impaired in mutants lacking its death domain or those associated with anhidrotic ectodermal dysplasia and the downless phenotype. Although EDAR possesses a death domain, it did not interact with the death domain-containing adaptor proteins TRADD and FADD. EDAR successfully interacted with various TRAF family members; however, a dominant-negative mutant of TRAF2 was incapable of blocking EDAR-induced nuclear factor-kappaB or JNK activation. Collectively, the above results suggest that EDAR utilizes a novel signal transduction pathway. Finally, ectodysplasin A can physically interact with the extracellular domain of EDAR and thus represents its biological ligand.
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