The structure of the trimer of human 4-1BB ligand is unique among members of the tumor necrosis factor superfamily.J Biol Chem. 2010 Mar 19; 285(12):9202-10.JB
Binding of the 4-1BB ligand (4-1BBL) to its receptor, 4-1BB, provides the T lymphocyte with co-stimulatory signals for survival, proliferation, and differentiation. Importantly, the 4-1BB-4-1BBL pathway is a well known target for anti-cancer immunotherapy. Here we present the 2.3-A crystal structure of the extracellular domain of human 4-1BBL. The ectodomain forms a homotrimer with an extended, three-bladed propeller structure that differs from trimers formed by other members of the tumor necrosis factor (TNF) superfamily. Based on the 4-1BBL structure, we modeled its complex with 4-1BB, which was consistent with images obtained by electron microscopy, and verified the binding site by site-directed mutagenesis. This structural information will facilitate the development of immunotherapeutics targeting 4-1BB.