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Cell. 1999 Apr 16;97(2):271-81.

Crystal structure of the interleukin-4/receptor alpha chain complex reveals a mosaic binding interface.

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  • 1Institut für Physiologische Chemie II, Theodor-Boveri-Institut für Biowissen Schaften (Biozentrum), Universität Würzburg, Germany.


Interleukin-4 (IL-4) is a principal regulatory cytokine during an immune response and a crucial determinant for allergy and asthma. IL-4 binds with high affinity and specificity to the ectodomain of the IL-4 receptor alpha chain (IL4-BP). Subsequently, this intermediate complex recruits the common gamma chain (gamma c), thereby initiating transmembrane signaling. The crystal structure of the intermediate complex between human IL-4 and IL4-BP was determined at 2.3 A resolution. It reveals a novel spatial orientation of the two proteins, a small but unexpected conformational change in the receptor-bound IL-4, and an interface with three separate clusters of trans-interacting residues. Novel insights on ligand binding in the cytokine receptor family and a paradigm for receptors of IL-2, IL-7, IL-9, and IL-15, which all utilize gamma c, are provided.

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