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Interleukin-12 (IL-12) is a cytokine that promotes cell-mediated immunity to intracellular pathogens by inducing type 1 helper T cell (TH1) responses and interferon-γ (IFN-γ) production. IL-12 binds to high-affinity β1/β2 heterodimeric IL-12 receptor (IL-12R) complexes on T cell and natural killer cells. Three unrelated individuals with severe, idiopathic mycobacterial and Salmonella infections were found to lack IL-12Rβ1 chain expression. Their cells were deficient in IL-12R signaling and IFN-γ production, and their remaining T cell responses were independent of endogenous IL-12. IL-12Rβ1 sequence analysis revealed genetic mutations that resulted in premature stop codons in the extracellular domain. The lack of IL-12Rβ1 expression results in a human immunodeficiency and shows the essential role of IL-12 in resistance to infections due to intracellular bacteria.
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