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Eur J Neurosci. 1999 Sep;11(9):2995-3004.

Neural activities of IL-6-type cytokines often depend on soluble cytokine receptors.

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Department of Medicine, Mainz University, Germany.


Cytokines of the interleukin-6 (IL-6) family participate in regulatory and inflammatory processes within the nervous system. IL-6, ciliary neurotrophic factor (CNTF) and IL-11 act via specific membrane receptors which, together with their ligands, associate with signal-transducing receptor subunits thereby initiating cytoplasmic signalling. Cells which only express signal-transducing receptor subunits but no ligand binding subunits for IL-6, CNTF and IL-11 are refractory to these cytokines. An unusual feature of the IL-6 cytokine family is that the soluble forms of the ligand binding receptor subunits generated by one cell type in complex with their ligands can directly stimulate the signal-transducing receptor subunits on different cell types which lack ligand binding receptor subunits. This process has been named transsignalling. This article focuses on the importance of transsignalling events in neuronal differentiation and survival responses.

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