BCL10/CLAP is an activator of apoptosis and NF-kappaB signaling pathways and has been implicated in B cell lymphomas of mucosa-associated lymphoid tissue. Although its role in apoptosis remains to be determined, BCL10 likely activates NF-kappaB through the IKK complex in response to upstream stimuli. The N-terminal caspase recruitment domain (CARD) of BCL10 has been proposed to function as an activation domain that mediates homophilic interactions with an upstream CARD-containing NF-kappaB activator. To identify upstream signaling partners of BCL10, we performed a mammalian two-hybrid analysis and identified CARD9 as a novel CARD-containing protein that interacts selectively with the CARD activation domain of BCL10. When expressed in cells, CARD9 binds to BCL10 and activates NF-kappaB. Furthermore, endogenous CARD9 is found associated with BCL10 suggesting that both proteins form a pre-existing signaling complex within cells. CARD9 also self-associates and contains extensive coiled-coil motifs that may function as oligomerization domains. We propose here that CARD9 is an upstream activator of BCL10 and NF-kappaB signaling.
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