Conservation of structure and function in vertebrate c-FLIP proteins despite rapid evolutionary change

Sakamaki, K., Iwabe, N., Iwata, H., Imai, K., Takagi, C., Chiba, K., Shukunami, C., Tomii, K., Ueno, N.
Biochemistry and biophysics reports   3: 175-189 (Journal)
Registered Authors
Shukunami, Chisa, Ueno, Naoto
Apoptosis, CARD, caspase-recruitment domain, CASc, Caspase, interleukin-1 β converting enzyme homologs, CHX, cycloheximide, Caspase-8, DED, death effector domain, EGFP, enhanced green fluorescent protein, Embryogenesis, Evolution, FADD, Fas-associated death domain protein, MO, morpholino oligonucleotide, NF-κB, NF-κB, Nuclear factor-kappa B, ODC, ornithine decarboxylase, PCR, polymerase chain reaction, Pseudocatalytic triad, RT-PCR, reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction, TRAF2, tumor necrosis factor receptor-associated factor 2, c-FLIP, cellular FLICE-like inhibitory protein, tubα6, tubulin α6
MeSH Terms
29124180 Full text @ Biochem Biophys Rep
Cellular FLICE-like inhibitory protein (c-FLIP, gene symbol CFLAR) was first identified as a negative regulator of death receptor-mediated apoptosis in mammals. To understand the ubiquity and diversity of the c-FLIP protein subfamily during evolution, c-FLIP orthologs were identified from a comprehensive range of vertebrates, including birds, amphibians, and fish, and were characterized by combining experimental and computational analysis. Predictions of three-dimensional protein structures and molecular phylogenetic analysis indicated that the conserved structural features of c-FLIP proteins are all derived from an ancestral caspase-8, although they rapidly diverged from the subfamily consisting of caspases-8, -10, and -18. The functional role of the c-FLIP subfamily members is nearly ubiquitous throughout vertebrates. Exogenous expression of non-mammalian c-FLIP proteins in cultured mammalian cells suppressed death receptor-mediated apoptosis, implying that all of these proteins possess anti-apoptotic activity. Furthermore, non-mammalian c-FLIP proteins induced NF-κB activation much like their mammalian counterparts. The CFLAR mRNAs were synthesized during frog and fish embryogenesis. Overexpression of a truncated mutant of c-FLIP in the Xenopus laevis embryos by mRNA microinjection caused thorax edema and abnormal constriction of the abdomen. Depletion of cflar transcripts in zebrafish resulted in developmental abnormalities accompanied by edema and irregular red blood cell flow. Thus, our results demonstrate that c-FLIP/CFLAR is conserved in both protein structure and function in several vertebrate species, and suggest a significant role of c-FLIP in embryonic development.
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