The molecular role of the common γ subunit in signal transduction reveals functional asymmetry within multimeric cytokine receptor complexes

Stephen Y. Lai, Weiduan Xu, Sarah L. Gaffen, Kathleen D. Liu, Gregory D. Longmore, Warner C. Greene, Mark A. Goldsmith

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

48 Scopus citations

Abstract

The specific signal transduction function of the γc subunit in the interleukin (IL) 2, IL-4, IL-7, IL-9, and IL-15 receptor complexes remains undefined. The present structure-function analyses demonstrated that the entire cytoplasmic tail of γc could be functionally replaced in the IL-2 receptor (IL-2R) signaling complex by a severely truncated erythropoietin receptor cytoplasmic domain lacking tyrosine residues. Heterodimerization of IL-2Rβ with either γc or the truncated erythropoietin receptor chain led to an array of specific signals normally derived from the native IL-2R despite the substitution of Janus kinase JAK2 for JAK3 in the receptor complex. These findings thus suggest a model in which the γc subunit serves as a common and generic "trigger" chain by providing a nonspecific Janus kinase for signaling program initiation, while signal specificity is determined by the unique "driver" subunit in each of the γc-containing receptor complexes. Furthermore, these results may have important functional implications for the asymmetric design of many cytokine receptor complexes and the evolutionary design of receptor subfamilies that share common trigger or driver subunits.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)231-235
Number of pages5
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Volume93
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 9 1996

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