Herpesvirus entry mediator, a member of the tumor necrosis factor receptor (TNFR) family, interacts with members of the TNFR-associated factor family and activates the transcription factors NF-kappaB and AP-1.
The mammalian tumor necrosis factor receptor (TNFR) family consists of 10 cell-surface proteins that regulate development and homeostasis of the immune system. Based on an expressed sequence tag, we have cloned a cDNA encoding a novel member of the human TNFR family. A closely related protein, designated HVEM (for herpesvirus entry mediator), was identified independently by another group as a mediator of herpesvirus entry into mammalian cells (Montgomery, R., Warner, M., Lum, B., and Spear, P. (1996) Cell 87, 427-436). HVEM differed from our clone by two amino acid residues, suggesting that the two proteins represent polymorphism of a single HVEM gene. We detected HVEM mRNA expression in several human fetal and adult tissues, although the predominant sites of expression were lymphocyte-rich tissues such as adult spleen and peripheral blood leukocytes. The cytoplasmic region of HVEM bound to several members of the TNFR-associated factor (TRAF) family, namely TRAF1, TRAF2, TRAF3, and TRAF5, but not to TRAF6. Transient transfection of HVEM into human 293 cells caused marked activation of nuclear factor-kappaB (NF-kappaB), a transcriptional regulator of multiple immunomodulatory and inflammatory genes. HVEM transfection induced also marked activation of Jun N-terminal kinase, and of the Jun-containing transcription factor AP-1, a regulator of cellular stress-response genes. These results suggest that HVEM is linked via TRAFs to signal transduction pathways that activate the immune response.