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J Biol Chem. 1996 Mar 8;271(10):5487-94.

A di-leucine motif and an upstream serine in the interleukin-6 (IL-6) signal transducer gp130 mediate ligand-induced endocytosis and down-regulation of the IL-6 receptor.

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Institute of Biochemistry, Rheinisch-Westfälische Technische Hochschule Aachen, 52057 Aachen, Germany.


The interleukin-6 (IL-6) receptor complex is composed of two different subunits, the IL-6 binding protein (IL-6R, gp80) and the signal transducing component gp130. Our previous studies revealed that the 10-amino acid sequence TQPLLDSEER within the intracellular domain of gp130 is crucial for the efficient internalization of IL-6. Since this sequence contains a putative di-leucine internalization motif, we further analyzed this region by constructing two additional deletions and a series of point mutants. Analyses of these mutants showed that the di-leucine pair (Leu-145 and Leu-146) is essential for ligand internalization, with leucine 145 being less resilient to exchanges. Furthermore, when a chimeric protein (Tac-STQPLL) composed of the Tac antigen fused to the hexapeptide STQPLL of gp130 was studied, we found that this sequence is sufficient to mediate endocytosis and lysosomal targeting of the chimera. Mutational analysis of three serine residues upstream of the di-leucine motif revealed that mutation of serine 139 to an alanine reduces the initial internalization rate by 50%. This finding suggests that a serine phosphorylation may be important for rapid endocytosis.

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