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Immunol Res. 2011 Oct;51(1):5-14. doi: 10.1007/s12026-011-8209-y.

Molecular interactions within the IL-6/IL-12 cytokine/receptor superfamily.

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Department of Immunology, St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, 262 Danny Thomas Place, Memphis, TN 38105, USA.


Production of cytokines by immune cells in response to stimuli and the binding of cytokines to specific receptors on target cells is a central feature of the immune response. The IL-12 cytokine family is particularly influential in determining the fate of T cells and is characterized by the sharing of cytokine and receptor subunits. A thorough understanding of the molecular interactions within this family will be a key to the development of therapeutic inhibitors or enhancers of IL-12 family function. While the current structural and molecular data for IL-12 family members is limited, there is ample information on the structurally related IL-6 cytokine family. This review will summarize the current structural and mutagenesis data within the IL-12 family and will attempt to utilize similarities between the IL-6 and IL-12 families to understand molecular interactions between IL-12 family subunits and with receptor components.

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