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Proteins. 1997 Jan;27(1):96-109.

The family of the IL-6-type cytokines: specificity and promiscuity of the receptor complexes.

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Institut für Biochemie, Rheinisch-Westfälische Technische Hochschule Aachen, Germany. achin@cionm1.biochem.twth-aachen.dc


The cytokines IL-6, LIF, CNTF, OSM, IL-11, and CT-1 have been grouped into the family of IL-6-type cytokines, since they all require gp130 for signal transduction. Interestingly, gp130 binds directly to OSM, whereas complex formation with the other cytokines depends on additional receptor subunits. Only limited structural information on these cytokines and their receptors is available. X-ray structures have been solved for the cytokines LIF and CNTF, whose up-up-down-down four-helix bundle is common to all of these cytokines, and for the receptors of hGH and prolactin, which contain two domains with a fibronectin III-like fold. Since cocrystallization and x-ray analysis of the up to four different proteins forming the receptor complexes of the IL-6-type cytokines is unlikely to be achieved in the near future, model building based on the existing structural information is the only approach for the time being. Here we present model structures of the complexes of human and murine IL-6 with their receptors. Their validity can be deduced from the fact that published mutagenesis data and the different receptor specificity of human and murine IL-6 can be understood. It is now possible to predict the relative positions and contacts for all molecules in their respective complexes. Such information can be used for the rational design of cytokine and receptor antagonists, which may have a valuable therapeutic perspective.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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