Luxembourg researchers summarise current knowledge on protein super family

What did we learn over the past 30 years and what is our present knowledge on cell signalling involving the key pro-inflammatory cytokine Tumour Necrosis Factor (TNF)? A team of Luxembourg researchers, led by FNR ATTRACT Fellow Prof Dr Dirk Brenner, summarises the current knowledge on the topic in an invited review.

The superfamily of TNF ligands and receptors comprise the impressive number of 19 and 29 members, respectively. LIH researchers Dr Catherine Dostert, Dr Melanie Grusdat, and FNR ATTRACT Fellow Prof Dirk Brenner, along with  Dr Elisabeth Letellier from the University of Luxembourg, present our current understanding of the TNF ligand and receptor superfamily in a review entitled ‘The TNF Family of Ligands and Receptors: Communication Modules in the Immune System and Beyond.

The review is published in the January 2019 issue of the top journal Physiological Reviews.

TNF dysregulation associated with inflammatory diseases, autoimmune disorders and cancer

“The members of the superfamily of TNR ligands and receptors (TNF/TNFR) are mainly but not exclusively expressed by the cells of the immune system. This class of molecules regulate important cellular processes such as cellular differentiation, survival and cell death,” Prof Dirk Brenner explains, adding:

“The most critical function of the TNF/TNFR-superfamily, however, is in sharpening the immune response and their dysregulation has been associated with inflammatory diseases, autoimmune disorders and cancer.”

Although the members of the TNF/TNFR superfamily are being intensively studied on a structural and functional level, a better understanding of the fundamental mechanisms underlying the molecular pathways they mediate could help to design more effective anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer therapies.

“I was quite delighted when I received the invitation for this review because it shows our steadily growing international recognition”, Prof Brenner explains. 

“The TNF/TNFR superfamily is functionally very diverse, however, we provide a comprehensive summary of the current state of the art and recent advances in the field. 

“Research on the TNF/TNFR superfamily members has developed from initially pure basic and clinical research to the development of targeted therapies with many clinical trials still ongoing. We hope that the readers share our fascination for these key cellular regulators and their therapeutic potential”, Prof Brenner and Dr Dostert explain.

About Dirk Brenner

Prof Dr Dirk Brenner is an immunology researcher and FNR ATTRACT Fellow at the Luxembourg Institute of Health (LIH), where he leads the ‘Experimental & Molecular Immunology Group‘.

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