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J Biol Chem. 2004 Jun 18;279(25):26748-53. Epub 2004 Apr 14.

IRAK4 kinase activity is redundant for interleukin-1 (IL-1) receptor-associated kinase phosphorylation and IL-1 responsiveness.

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Department of Immunology, Cleveland Clinic Foundation, Cleveland, Ohio 44195, USA.


Interleukin-1 (IL-1) stimulation leads to the recruitment of interleukin-1 receptor-associated kinase (IRAK) to the IL-1 receptor, where IRAK is phosphorylated, ubiquitinated, and eventually degraded. Kinase-inactive mutant IRAK is still phosphorylated in response to IL-1 stimulation when it is transfected into IRAK-deficient cells, suggesting that there must be an IRAK kinase in the pathway. The fact that IRAK4, another IRAK family member necessary for the IL-1 pathway, is able to phosphorylate IRAK in vitro suggests that IRAK4 might be the IRAK kinase. However, we now found that the IRAK4 kinase-inactive mutant had the same ability as the wild-type IRAK4 in restoring IL-1-mediated signaling in human IRAK4-deficient cells, including NFkappaB-dependent reporter gene expression, the activation of NFkappaB and JNK, and endogenous IL-8 gene expression. These results strongly indicate that the kinase activity of human IRAK4 is not necessary for IL-1 signaling. Furthermore, we showed that the kinase activity of IRAK4 was not necessary for IL-1-induced IRAK phosphorylation, suggesting that IRAK phosphorylation can probably be achieved either by autophosphorylation or by trans-phosphorylation through IRAK4. In support of this, only the impairment of the kinase activity of both IRAK and IRAK4 efficiently abolished the IL-1 pathway, demonstrating that the kinase activity of IRAK and IRAK4 is redundant for IL-1-mediated signaling. Moreover, consistent with the fact that IRAK4 is a necessary component of the IL-1 pathway, we found that IRAK4 was required for the efficient recruitment of IRAK to the IL-1 receptor complex.

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