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Cell Immunol. 2001 Sep 15;212(2):118-25.

Viral interleukin 6 stimulates human peripheral blood B cells that are unresponsive to human interleukin 6.

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Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, School of Medicine, University of California, Los Angeles, California 90095, USA.


Cellular responsiveness to human interleukin 6 (hIL6) requires the expression of two receptor molecules: IL6-specific receptor (CD126'IL6R') and a nonspecific signal-transducing molecule (CD130'gp130'). Regulation of responsiveness to hIL6 is generally controlled by CD126'IL6R' expression. A viral homologue of hIL6 (vIL6) is encoded by human herpesvirus-8 and has biologic activity similar to hIL6 on a number of cell lines. vIL6 differs from hIL6 in its receptor utilization, requiring only CD130'gp130'. Total human B cells isolated from peripheral blood, which are predominantly CD126'IL6R'-negative, as well as sorted CD126'IL6R'-negative B cells, could be stimulated by recombinant vIL6, but not by hIL6, as indicated by induction of IL6-like signaling (STAT3 phosphorylation). This suggests that the ability of vIL6 to stimulate B cells expressing little or no CD126'IL6R' allows it to act on a larger pool of target B cells, compared to human IL6.

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