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J Immunol. 2001 Aug 1;167(3):1306-12.

An absolute requirement for STAT4 and a role for IFN-gamma as an amplifying factor in IL-12 induction of the functional IL-18 receptor complex.

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  • 1Department of Oncology, Biomedical Research Center, Osaka University Graduate School of Medicine, 2-2 Yamada-oka, Suita, Osaka 565-0871, Japan.


IL-12 and IL-18 are both proinflammatory cytokines that contribute to promoting Th1 development and IFN-gamma expression. However, neither IL-12R nor IL-18R is expressed as a functional complex on most resting T cells. This study investigated the molecular mechanisms underlying the induction of an IL-18R complex in T cells. Resting T cells expressed IL-18Ralpha chains but did not exhibit IL-18 binding sites as detected by incubation with rIL-18 followed by anti-IL-18 Ab, suggesting a lack of IL-18Rbeta expression in resting T cells. Although they also failed to express IL-12R, stimulation with anti-CD3 plus anti-CD28 generated IL-12R. Exposure of these cells to IL-12 led not only to up-regulation of IL-18Ralpha expression but also to induction of IL-18R binding sites on both CD4(+) and CD8(+) T cells concomitant with IL-18Rbeta mRNA expression. The IL-18 binding site represented a functional IL-18R complex capable of exhibiting IL-18 responsiveness. IL-12 induction of an IL-18R complex and IL-18Rbeta mRNA expression was not observed in STAT4-deficient (STAT4(-/-)) T cells and was substantially decreased in IFN-gamma(-/-) T cells. However, the failure of STAT4(-/-) T cells to induce an IL-18R complex was not corrected by IFN-gamma. These results indicate that STAT4 and IFN-gamma play an indispensable role and a role as an amplifying factor, respectively, in IL-12 induction of the functional IL-18R complex.

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