Skip Navigation
Genetics Home Reference: your guide to understanding genetic conditions     A service of the U.S. National Library of Medicine®

TNFSF gene family

Reviewed October 2008

What are the TNFSF genes?

Genes in the tumor necrosis factor superfamily (TNFSF) provide instructions for making proteins that are involved in a variety of cellular functions. The first proteins grouped in this family were called tumor necrosis factors because of their ability to kill tumor cells. As other proteins were found to have similar structures, it was recognized that the TNFSF genes are also important regulators of inflammation, controlled cell death (apoptosis), the immune system, and the formation of tissues and organs during embryonic development (organogenesis).

TNFSF proteins are ligands, which means they can attach (bind) to other proteins called receptors. A ligand and its receptor fit together like a key in a lock. TNFSF proteins bind with members of the tumor necrosis factor receptor superfamily (TNFRSF). Depending on which proteins are involved, this binding triggers a series of chemical signals that instruct cells to grow and divide, self-destruct, or mature and take on specialized functions. Disorders caused by mutations in TNFSF genes all involve abnormal cell signaling resulting from a ligand that cannot properly interact with its receptor.

Which genes are included in the TNFSF gene family?

The HUGO Gene Nomenclature Committee (HGNC) provides an index of gene families ( and their member genes.

Genetics Home Reference summarizes the normal function and health implications of this member of the TNFSF gene family: CD40LG.

What conditions are related to genes in the TNFSF gene family?

Genetics Home Reference includes these conditions related to genes in the TNFSF gene family:

  • X-linked hyper IgM syndrome

Where can I find additional information about the TNFSF gene family?

You may find the following resources about the TNFSF gene family helpful.

  • Eurekah Bioscience Collection (2003): Tumor Necrosis Factors ( (U.S. National Library of Medicine)

What glossary definitions help with understanding the TNFSF gene family?

apoptosis ; cell ; embryonic ; immune system ; inflammation ; ligand ; necrosis ; receptor ; tumor

You may find definitions for these and many other terms in the Genetics Home Reference Glossary.


These sources were used to develop the Genetics Home Reference summary for the TNFSF gene family.

  • Locksley RM, Killeen N, Lenardo MJ. The TNF and TNF receptor superfamilies: integrating mammalian biology. Cell. 2001 Feb 23;104(4):487-501. Review. (
  • Collette Y, Gilles A, Pontarotti P, Olive D. A co-evolution perspective of the TNFSF and TNFRSF families in the immune system. Trends Immunol. 2003 Jul;24(7):387-94. Review. (
  • Bossen C, Ingold K, Tardivel A, Bodmer JL, Gaide O, Hertig S, Ambrose C, Tschopp J, Schneider P. Interactions of tumor necrosis factor (TNF) and TNF receptor family members in the mouse and human. J Biol Chem. 2006 May 19;281(20):13964-71. Epub 2006 Mar 17. (
  • Aggarwal BB. Signalling pathways of the TNF superfamily: a double-edged sword. Nat Rev Immunol. 2003 Sep;3(9):745-56. Review. (
  • Hehlgans T, Pfeffer K. The intriguing biology of the tumour necrosis factor/tumour necrosis factor receptor superfamily: players, rules and the games. Immunology. 2005 May;115(1):1-20. Review. (
  • Ware CF. The TNF Superfamily-2008. Cytokine Growth Factor Rev. 2008 Jun-Aug;19(3-4):183-6. doi: 10.1016/j.cytogfr.2008.05.001. (


The resources on this site should not be used as a substitute for professional medical care or advice. Users seeking information about a personal genetic disease, syndrome, or condition should consult with a qualified healthcare professional. See How can I find a genetics professional in my area? ( in the Handbook.

Reviewed: October 2008
Published: February 1, 2016