Site-specific mutagenesis of the human interleukin-2 gene: structure-function analysis of the cysteine residues

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Science  29 Jun 1984:
Vol. 224, Issue 4656, pp. 1431-1433
DOI: 10.1126/science.6427925


The gene encoding human interleukin-2 (IL-2) has been cloned from human spleen cells, peripheral blood lymphocytes, and the Jurkat cell line. Nucleotide sequence analysis of the gene revealed that the encoded IL-2 protein has three cysteines located at amino acid residues 58, 105, and 125 of the mature protein. Site-specific mutagenesis procedures were used to modify the IL-2 gene by changing each of the cysteine codons individually to serine codons. Substitution of serine for cysteine residues at either position 58 or 105 of the IL-2 protein substantially reduced biological activity, indicating that the cysteines at these positions are necessary for maintenance of the biologically active conformation and may therefore be linked by a disulfide bridge. The modified IL-2 protein containing a substitution at position 125 retained full biological activity, suggesting that the cysteine at this position is not involved in a disulfide bond and that a free sulfhydryl group at that position is not necessary for receptor binding.