Downregulation of Fas ligand by shedding.
Apoptosis-inducing Fas ligand (FasL) is a type II membrane protein, predominantly expressed in the activated T cells. FasL is cleaved by a putative metalloproteinase to produce a soluble form. Here, we blocked the shedding of human FasL by deleting its cleavage site. Although human Jurkat cells and mouse primary hepatocytes that express a low level of Fas were resistant to the soluble form of FasL, they were efficiently killed by membrane-bound FasL. Furthermore, soluble FasL inhibited cytotoxicity of the membrane-bound FasL. These results indicate that the membrane-bound form of FasL is the functional form and suggest that shedding of FasL is to prevent the killing of the healthy bystander cells by cytotoxic T cells.