TNF can trigger two opposing responses: cell survival and cell death. TNFR1 activates caspases that orchestrate apoptosis but some cell types switch to a necrotic death when treated with caspase inhibitors. Several genes that are required to orchestrate cell death by programmed necrosis have been identified, such as the kinase RIP1, but very little is known about the inhibitory signals that keep this necrotic cell death pathway in check. We demonstrate that T cells lacking the regulatory subunit of IKK, NFκB essential modifier (NEMO), are hypersensitive to programmed necrosis when stimulated with TNF in the presence of caspase inhibitors. Surprisingly, this pro-survival activity of NEMO is independent of NFκB-mediated gene transcription. Instead, NEMO inhibits necrosis by binding to ubiquitinated RIP1 to restrain RIP1 from engaging the necrotic death pathway. In the absence of NEMO, or if ubiquitination of RIP1 is blocked, necrosis ensues when caspases are blocked. These results indicate that recruitment of NEMO to ubiquitinated RIP1 is a key step in the TNFR1 signaling pathway that determines whether RIP1 triggers a necrotic death response.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
- Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)