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J Mol Biol. 2010 Dec 10;404(4):650-64. doi: 10.1016/j.jmb.2010.09.068. Epub 2010 Oct 8.

Crystal structure of human interferon-λ1 in complex with its high-affinity receptor interferon-λR1.

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  • 1Macromolecular Crystallography Laboratory, NCI-Frederick, Frederick, MD 21702, USA.


Interferon (IFN)-λ1 [also known as interleukin (IL)-29] belongs to the recently discovered group of type III IFNs. All type III IFNs initiate signaling processes through formation of specific heterodimeric receptor complexes consisting of IFN-λR1 and IL-10R2. We have determined the structure of human IFN-λ1 complexed with human IFN-λR1, a receptor unique to type III IFNs. The overall structure of IFN-λ1 is topologically similar to the structure of IL-10 and other members of the IL-10 family of cytokines. IFN-λR1 consists of two distinct domains having fibronectin type III topology. The ligand-receptor interface includes helix A, loop AB, and helix F on the IFN site, as well as loops primarily from the N-terminal domain and inter-domain hinge region of IFN-λR1. Composition and architecture of the interface that includes only a few direct hydrogen bonds support an idea that long-range ionic interactions between ligand and receptor govern the process of initial recognition of the molecules while hydrophobic interactions finalize it.

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