Genetic Engineering of Death Ligands for Improvement of Therapeutic Activity

  • Jeannette Gerspach
  • Britta Schneider
  • Nicole Müller
  • Tina Otz
  • Harald Wajant
  • Klaus Pfizenmaier
Conference paper
Part of the Advances in Experimental Medicine and Biology book series (AEMB, volume 691)


The death ligands TRAIL, FasL/CD95L, and TNF are in the focus of intense preclinical and clinical research efforts having the aim to exploit these molecules as new anticancer drugs. A common feature of these ligands is that their transmembrane form displays higher and/or broader activity than their soluble counterpart. Accordingly, the bioactivity of the soluble form of these ligands ranges from being poorly active (FasL/CD95L) to displaying a receptor type-selective signaling capacity (TNF, TRAIL). The presently approved or clinically exploited recombinant variants of TNF and TRAIL correspond to the soluble trimeric form of these proteins. In order to increase their intrinsic and tumor-selective bioactivity, we modified these ligands by genetic engineering to reach two aims: (i) stabilization of their trimeric organization and/or (ii) directing ligand action to the diseased tissue. Here, we summarize our concepts and show recent data on improving death ligand activity by intramolecular stabilization and/or membrane ligand mimicking activity through cell surface presentation.


Fusion Protein HT1080 Cell Fibroblast Activation Protein Death Ligand scFv Fragment 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



Original work of the authors referred to in this review was supported by Deutsche Krebshilfe, grant no. 107551 and 106235 to H.W. and K.P. as well as by a career fellowship award by the Peter and Traudl Engelhorn Foundation to J.G.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jeannette Gerspach
    • 1
  • Britta Schneider
    • 1
  • Nicole Müller
    • 2
  • Tina Otz
    • 1
  • Harald Wajant
    • 2
  • Klaus Pfizenmaier
    • 1
  1. 1.Institute of Cell Biology and Immunology, University of StuttgartStuttgartGermany
  2. 2.Department of Molecular Internal MedicineMedical Clinic and Polyclinic II, University of WuerzburgWuerzburgGermany

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