The Response of Human Epithelial Cells to TNF Involves an Inducible Autocrine Cascade

Kevin A. Janes, Suzanne Gaudet, John Albeck, Ulrik B. Nielsen, Douglas A. Lauffenburger, Peter K. Sorger

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

165 Scopus citations


Tumor necrosis factor (TNF) is a proinflammatory cytokine that induces conflicting pro- and antiapoptotic signals whose relative strengths determine the extent of cell death. TNF receptor (TNFR) has been studied in considerable detail, but it is not known how crosstalk among antagonistic pro- and antiapoptotic signals is achieved. Here we report an experimental and computational analysis of crosstalk between prodeath TNF and prosurvival growth factors in human epithelial cells. By applying classifier-based regression to a cytokine-signaling compendium of ∼8000 intracellular protein measurements, we demonstrate that cells respond to TNF both directly, via activated TNF receptor, and indirectly, via the sequential release of transforming growth factor-α (TGF-α), interleukin-1α (IL-1α), and IL-1 receptor antagonist (IL-1ra). We refer to the contingent and time-varying series of extracellular signals induced by TNF as an "autocrine cascade." Time-dependent crosstalk of synergistic and antagonistic autocrine circuits may serve to link cellular responses to the local environment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1225-1239
Number of pages15
Issue number6
StatePublished - Mar 24 2006
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cell Biology
  • Molecular Biology


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