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EMBO J. 2001 Apr 2;20(7):1692-703.

The ciliary neurotrophic factor receptor alpha component induces the secretion of and is required for functional responses to cardiotrophin-like cytokine.

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INSERM EMI 9928, CHU d'Angers, 4 Rue Larrey, 49033 Angers Cedex, France.


Ciliary neurotrophic factor (CNTF) is involved in the survival of a number of different neural cell types, including motor neurons. CNTF functional responses are mediated through a tripartite membrane receptor composed of two signalling receptor chains, gp130 and the leukaemia inhibitory factor receptor (LIFR), associated with a non-signalling CNTF binding receptor alpha component (CNTFR). CNTFR-deficient mice show profound neuronal deficits at birth, leading to a lethal phenotype. In contrast, inactivation of the CNTF gene leads only to a slight muscle weakness, mainly during adulthood, suggesting that CNTFR binds to a second ligand that is important for development. Modelling studies of the interleukin-6 family member cardiotrophin-like cytokine (CLC) revealed structural similarities with CNTF, including the conservation of a site I domain involved in binding to CNTFR. Co-expression of CLC and CNTFR in mammalian cells generates a secreted composite cytokine, displaying activities on cells expressing the gp130-LIFR complex on their surface. Correspondingly, CLC-CNTFR activates gp130, LIFR and STAT3 signalling components, and enhances motor neuron survival. Together, these observations demonstrate that CNTFR induces the secretion of CLC, as well as mediating the functional responses of CLC.

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