The polypeptide encoded by the cDNA for human cell surface antigen Fas can mediate apoptosis.
Mouse anti-Fas monoclonal antibody has a cytolytic activity on human cells that express the antigen. Complementary DNAs encoding the cell surface antigen Fas were isolated from a cDNA library of human T cell lymphoma KT-3 cells. The nucleotide sequence of the cDNAs revealed that the molecule coding for the Fas antigen determinant is a 319 amino acid polypeptide (Mr 36,000) with a single transmembrane domain. The extracellular domain is rich in cysteine residue, and shows a similarity to that of human tumor necrosis factor receptors, human nerve growth factor receptor, and human B cell antigen CD40. Murine WR19L cells or L929 cells transformed with the human Fas antigen cDNA were killed by the anti-Fas antibody in the process known as apoptosis.