TWEAK (TNF homologue with weak apoptosis-inducing activity) and Fn14 (fibroblast growth factor-inducible protein 14) are members of the tumor necrosis factor (TNF) ligand and receptor super-families. Having observed that Xenopus Fn14 cross-reacts with human TWEAK, despite its relatively low sequence homology to human Fn14, we examined the conservation in tertiary fold and binding interfaces between the two species. Our results, combining NMR solution structure determination, binding assays, extensive site-directed mutagenesis and molecular modeling, reveal that, in addition to the known and previously characterized β–hairpin motif, the helix-loop-helix motif makes an essential contribution to the receptor/ligand binding interface. We further discuss the insight provided by the structural analyses regarding how the cysteine-rich domains of the TNF receptor super-family may have evolved over time.Database
Structural data are available in the Protein Data Bank/BioMagResBank databases under the accession codes 2KMZ, 2KN0 and 2KN1 and 17237, 17247 and 17252.