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J Biol Chem. 2004 Jul 30;279(31):32269-74. Epub 2004 May 27.

Role of the interleukin (IL)-28 receptor tyrosine residues for antiviral and antiproliferative activity of IL-29/interferon-lambda 1: similarities with type I interferon signaling.

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Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research, Brussels Branch and the Experimental Medicine Unit, Université de Louvain, B-1200 Brussels, Belgium.


Interferon (IFN)-lambda 1, -lambda 2, and -lambda 3 are the latest members of the class II cytokine family and were shown to have antiviral activity. Their receptor is composed of two chains, interleukin-28R/likely interleukin or cytokine or receptor 2 (IL-28R/LICR2) and IL-10R beta, and mediates the tyrosine phosphorylation of STAT1, STAT2, STAT3, and STAT5. Here, we show that activation of this receptor by IFN-lambda 1 can also inhibit cell proliferation and induce STAT4 phosphorylation, further extending functional similarities with type I IFNs. We used IL-28R/LICR2-mutated receptors to identify the tyrosines required for STAT activation, as well as antiproliferative and antiviral activities. We found that IFN-lambda 1-induced STAT2 tyrosine phosphorylation is mediated through tyrosines 343 and 517 of the receptor, which showed some similarities with tyrosines from type I IFN receptors involved in STAT2 activation. These two tyrosines were also responsible for antiviral and antiproliferative activities of IFN-lambda 1. By contrast, STAT4 phosphorylation (and to some extent STAT3 activation) was independent from IL-28R/LICR2 tyrosine residues. Taken together, these observations extend the functional similarities between IFN-lambdas and type I IFNs and shed some new light on the mechanisms of activation of STAT2 and STAT4 by these cytokines.

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