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J Immunol. 2012 May 1;188(9):4149-57. doi: 10.4049/jimmunol.1101883. Epub 2012 Mar 23.

IL-15 can signal via IL-15Rα, JNK, and NF-κB to drive RANTES production by myeloid cells.

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Department of Pathology and Molecular Medicine, McMaster Immunology Research Centre and Institute for Infectious Disease Research, McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario L8S 4K1, Canada.


IL-15 plays many important roles within the immune system. IL-15 signals in lymphocytes via trans presentation, where accessory cells such as macrophages and dendritic cells present IL-15 bound to IL-15Rα in trans to NK cells and CD8(+) memory T cells expressing IL-15/IL-2Rβ and common γ chain (γ(c)). Previously, we showed that the prophylactic delivery of IL-15 to Rag2(-/-)γ(c)(-/-) mice (mature T, B, and NK cell negative) afforded protection against a lethal HSV-2 challenge and metastasis of B16/F10 melanoma cells. In this study, we demonstrated that in vivo delivery of an adenoviral construct optimized for the secretion of human IL-15 to Rag2(-/-)γ(c)(-/-) mice resulted in significant increases in spleen size and cell number, leading us to hypothesize that IL-15 signals differently in myeloid immune cells compared with lymphocytes, for which IL-15/IL-2Rβ and γ(c) expression are essential. Furthermore, treatment with IL-15 induced RANTES production by Rag2(-/-)γ(c)(-/-) bone marrow cells, but the presence of γ(c) did not increase bone marrow cell sensitivity to IL-15. This IL-15-mediated RANTES production by Rag2(-/-)γ(c)(-/-) bone marrow cells occurred independently of the IL-15/IL-2Rβ and Jak/STAT pathways and instead required IL-15Rα signaling as well as activation of JNK and NF-κB. Importantly, we also showed that the trans presentation of IL-15 by IL-15Rα boosts IL-15-mediated IFN-γ production by NK cells but reduces IL-15-mediated RANTES production by Rag2(-/-)γ(c)(-/-) myeloid bone marrow cells. Our data clearly show that IL-15 signaling in NK cells is different from that of myeloid immune cells. Additional insights into IL-15 biology may lead to novel therapies aimed at bolstering targeted immune responses against cancer and infectious disease.

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