Death receptors belong to the tumor necrosis factor (TNF) receptor gene superfamily, which is defined by similar, cysteine-rich extracellular domains. The death receptors also contain a homologous cytoplasmic sequence termed the “death domain.” Death domains typically enable death receptors to engage the cell’s apoptotic machinery, but in some instances they mediate functions that are distinct from or even counteract apoptosis. Some molecules that transmit signals from death receptors contain death domains themselves.
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