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Interferon-{lambda} Is Functionally an Interferon but Structurally Related to the Interleukin-10 Family

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Interferon-lambda (IFN-lambda) is an antiviral cytokine that signals through a distinct receptor complex, composed of the IFN-lambdaR1 and interleukin-10R2 (IL-10R2) receptor chains. We have determined the crystal structure of human IFN-lambda3 and characterized the interaction with its receptor complex through structure-based site-directed mutagenesis. The ability of IFN-lambda3 mutants to signal was determined by measuring the antiviral activity and induced STAT2 phosphorylation. In conclusion, our data show that, although IFN-lambda is functionally an interferon, it is clearly structurally related to members of the IL-10 family. In particular, we found an interesting similarity between IFN-lambda and IL-22, and we suggest that IFN-lambda and IL-22 possess parallel functions, protecting epithelial tissue against viral and bacterial infections, respectively.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Biological Chemistry
Pages (from-to)20869-75
Number of pages6
Publication statusPublished - 2009

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