Fas apoptosis inhibitory molecules: more than death-receptor antagonists in the nervous system

Laura Planells-Ferrer, Jorge Urresti, Elena Coccia, Koen M.O. Galenkamp, Isabel Calleja-Yagüe, Joaquín López-Soriano, Paulina Carriba, Bruna Barneda-Zahonero, Miguel F. Segura, Joan X. Comella

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articleResearchpeer-review

23 Citations (Scopus)


© 2016 International Society for Neurochemistry The importance of death receptor (DR) signaling in embryonic development and physiological homeostasis is well established, as is the existence of several molecules that modulate DRs function, among them Fas Apoptotis Inhibitory Molecules. Although FAIM1, FAIM2, and FAIM3 inhibit Fas-induced cell death, they are not structurally related, nor do they share expression patterns. Moreover, they inhibit apoptosis through completely different mechanisms. FAIM1 and FAIM2 protect neurons from DR-induced apoptosis and are involved in neurite outgrowth and neuronal plasticity. FAIM1 inhibits Fas ligand- and tumor necrosis factor alpha-induced apoptosis by direct interaction with Fas receptor and through the stabilization of levels of X-linked inhibitor of apoptosis protein, a potent anti-apoptotic protein that inhibits caspases. Low FAIM1 levels are found in Alzheimer's disease, thus sensitizing neurons to tumor necrosis factor alpha and prompting neuronal loss. FAIM2 protects from Fas by direct interaction with Fas receptor, as well as by modulating calcium release at the endoplasmic reticulum through interaction with Bcl-xL. Several studies prove the role of FAIM2 in diseases of the nervous system, such as ischemia, bacterial meningitis, and neuroblastoma. The less characterized member of the FAIM family is FAIM3, which is expressed in tissues of the digestive and urinary tracts, bone marrow and testes, and restricted to the cerebellum in the nervous system. FAIM3 protects against DR-induced apoptosis by inducing the expression of other DR-antagonists such as CFLAR or through the interaction with the DR-adaptor protein Fas-associated via death domain. FAIM3 null mouse models reveal this protein as an important mediator of inflammatory autoimmune responses such as those triggered in autoimmune encephalomyelitis. Given the differences between FAIMs and the variety of processes in which they are involved, here we sought to provide a concise review about these molecules and their roles in the physiology and pathology of the nervous system. (Figure presented.) Even though they share name and inhibit Fas-induced cell death, Fas apoptotic inhibitory molecules (FAIMs) are not structurally related and inhibit apoptosis through completely different mechanisms. In this review, we describe FAIM1, FAIM2, and FAIM3 functions in the nervous system, and their implication in diverse pathologies such as neurodegenerative disease, cancer, or autoimmune diseases.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)11-21
JournalJournal of Neurochemistry
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2016


  • apoptosis
  • FAIM
  • lifeguard
  • nervous system
  • TOSO


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