The Pseudokinase MLKL and the Kinase RIPK3 Have Distinct Roles in Autoimmune Disease Caused by Loss of Death-Receptor-Induced Apoptosis Academic Article uri icon


  • The kinases RIPK1 and RIPK3 and the pseudo-kinase MLKL have been identified as key regulators of the necroptotic cell death pathway, although a role for MLKL within the whole animal has not yet been established. Here, we have shown that MLKL deficiency rescued the embryonic lethality caused by loss of Caspase-8 or FADD. Casp8(-/-)Mlkl(-/-) and Fadd(-/-)Mlkl(-/-) mice were viable and fertile but rapidly developed severe lymphadenopathy, systemic autoimmune disease, and thrombocytopenia. These morbidities occurred more rapidly and with increased severity in Casp8(-/-)Mlkl(-/-) and Fadd(-/-)Mlkl(-/-) mice compared to Casp8(-/-)Ripk3(-/-) or Fadd(-/-)Ripk3(-/-) mice, respectively. These results demonstrate that MLKL is an essential effector of aberrant necroptosis in embryos caused by loss of Caspase-8 or FADD. Furthermore, they suggest that RIPK3 and/or MLKL may exert functions independently of necroptosis. It appears that non-necroptotic functions of RIPK3 contribute to the lymphadenopathy, autoimmunity, and excess cytokine production that occur when FADD or Caspase-8-mediated apoptosis is abrogated.


  • Alvarez-Diaz, S
  • Dillon, CP
  • Lalaoui, N
  • Tanzer, MC
  • Rodriguez, DA
  • Lin, A
  • Lebois, M
  • Hakem, R
  • Josefsson, EC
  • O'Reilly, LA
  • Silke, J
  • Alexander, WS
  • Green, DR
  • Strasser, A

publication date

  • 2016