The IL-2 Deficiency Syndrome

A Lethal Disease Caused by Abnormal Lymphocyte Survival
  • Thomas Hünig
  • Anneliese Schimpl
Part of the Contemporary Immunology book series (CONTIM)


Interleukin-2 (IL-2), a cytokine with pleiotropic effects on T-, B- and NK-cells (1), binds to cell surface receptors consisting of at least three subunits (for review, see ref. 2): an IL-2 specific a-chain with low binding affinity and no signal-transducing capacity; a (3-chain that is shared with the IL-15 receptor (3,4) and participates in signaling through its cytoplasmic tail; and the “common” γ-chain (γc) shared by receptors for IL-4, -7, -9, and -15 that also takes part in signal transduction (3,5–9, for a review see ref. 10). In line with the sharing of (ß- and γ-chains by IL-2 and IL-15 receptors, a number of overlapping biological activities have been reported for both cytokines such as the induction of T- and NK-cell proliferation and, at least in humans, the promotion of B-cell growth and Ig production (4,11,12). However, additional IL-2 or IL-15-specific biological responses can so far not be excluded, and the different sources of the two lymphokines, i.e., mainly activated T-cells for IL-2 versus a wide variety of non-lymphocytic cells for IL-15 (4) predict that in vivo, the two cytokines will play quite distinct roles in the regulation of lymphocyte activation. Therefore, it will be important to keep in mind the possible contributions of IL-15 to the development and functioning of the immune system in the IL-2 deficient mice that are the object of this chapter, as compared to mice lacking components of the IL-2 receptor system.


Deficiency Syndrome Staphylococcal Enterotoxin Lymphoid Development Bacterial Superantigens Mixed Chimera 
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© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1998

Authors and Affiliations

  • Thomas Hünig
  • Anneliese Schimpl

There are no affiliations available

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