Members of the tumour necrosis factor receptor family play a pivotal role in cell differentiation, function and apoptosis. However, signalling by many members of the family remains to be elucidated. In the present study, we developed a chimaeric receptor approach for studying signalling by receptors belonging to this family. The chimaeric receptor comprises the human Fas external domain linked to the transmembrane and cytoplasmic domains of a tumour necrosis factor receptor family member of interest. When the chimaera is expressed in mouse cells, the clustering of the chimaera induced by a human Fas-activating antibody activates the intracellular domain of the chimaera without affecting its endogenous counterpart. Since the antibody recognizes only human Fas, this approach can be used to dissect signalling by any tumour necrosis factor family member using any type of mouse cell including those endogenously expressing Fas. Moreover, we also showed that the chimaeric receptor approach can be used to study signalling at any stage of cell differentiation or function.

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