Abstract

Interleukin-2 (IL-2) binds to both high- and low-affinity classes of IL-2 receptors on activated T lymphocytes. Only the high-affinity receptors are involved in receptor-mediated endocytosis and normally transduce the mitogenic signals of IL-2; however, the structural features distinguishing the high- and low-affinity receptors are unknown. When 125I-labeled IL-2 was chemically cross-linked to activated human T lymphocytes, two major bands were identified. First, as predicted, a 68- to 72-kilodalton band, consisting of IL-2 (15.5 kilodaltons) cross-linked to the IL-2 receptor (55 kilodaltons), was observed. Second, an unpredicted 85- to 92-kilodalton moiety was detected. This band was not present when IL-2 was cross-linked to transfected C127 cells, which exclusively express low-affinity receptors. The data presented are most consistent with the existence of a 70- to 77-kilodalton glycoprotein subunit (p70) which, upon associating with the 55-kilodalton low-affinity receptor (p55), transforms it into a high-affinity site. It is proposed that p55 and p70 be referred to as the alpha and beta subunits, respectively, of the high-affinity IL-2 receptor.

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