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FEBS Lett. 2003 Mar 13;538(1-3):113-6.

The human interleukin-6 (IL-6) receptor exists as a preformed dimer in the plasma membrane.

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Biochemisches Institut, Christian Albrechts Universit├Ąt zu Kiel, Olshausenstr 40, D-24098 Kiel, Germany.


The recently solved X-ray structure of the extracellular portion of the interleukin-6 (IL-6) receptor (IL-6R) revealed an IL-6R dimer in the crystal lattice which probably represents a physiological dimer. Performing coprecipitation experiments with two differently tagged IL-6R variants expressed in COS-7 cells, we show that an IL-6R dimer exists in the plasma membrane in the absence of IL-6. Ligand binding does not seem to affect the dimerization status. When lysates of COS-7 cells expressing only one of the IL-6R variants are mixed, spontaneous dimerization occurs. Thus, the IL-6R dimer observed in the crystal structure represents a physiologically occurring phenomenon.

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