Cardioprotective Role of Tumor Necrosis Factor Receptor-Associated Factor 2 by Suppressing Apoptosis and Necroptosis

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Programmed cell death, including apoptosis, mitochondria-mediated necrosis, and necroptosis, is critically involved in ischemic cardiac injury, pathological cardiac remodeling, and heart failure progression. Whereas apoptosis and mitochondria-mediated necrosis signaling is well established, the regulatory mechanisms of necroptosis and its significance in the pathogenesis of heart failure remain elusive.


We examined the role of tumor necrosis factor receptor-associated factor 2 (Traf2) in regulating myocardial necroptosis and remodeling using genetic mouse models. We also performed molecular and cellular biology studies to elucidate the mechanisms by which Traf2 regulates necroptosis signaling.


We identified a critical role for Traf2 in myocardial survival and homeostasis by suppressing necroptosis. Cardiac-specific deletion of Traf2 in mice triggered necroptotic cardiac cell death, pathological remodeling, and heart failure. Plasma tumor necrosis factor α level was significantly elevated in Traf2-deficient mice, and genetic ablation of TNFR1 largely abrogated pathological cardiac remodeling and dysfunction associated with Traf2 deletion. Mechanistically, Traf2 critically regulates receptor-interacting proteins 1 and 3 and mixed lineage kinase domain-like protein necroptotic signaling with the adaptor protein tumor necrosis factor receptor-associated protein with death domain as an upstream regulator and transforming growth factor β-activated kinase 1 as a downstream effector. It is important to note that genetic deletion of RIP3 largely rescued the cardiac phenotype triggered by Traf2 deletion, validating a critical role of necroptosis in regulating pathological remodeling and heart failure propensity.


These results identify an important Traf2-mediated, NFκB-independent, prosurvival pathway in the heart by suppressing necroptotic signaling, which may serve as a new therapeutic target for pathological remodeling and heart failure.

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