The Structure of Interleukin-2 Complexed with Its Alpha Receptor

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Science  03 Jun 2005:
Vol. 308, Issue 5727, pp. 1477-1480
DOI: 10.1126/science.1109745

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Interleukin-2 (IL-2) is an immunoregulatory cytokine that binds sequentially to the alpha (IL-2Rα), beta (IL-2Rβ), and common gamma chain (γc) receptor subunits. Here we present the 2.8 angstrom crystal structure of a complex between human IL-2 and IL-2Rα, which interact in a docking mode distinct from that of other cytokine receptor complexes. IL-2Rα is composed of strand-swapped “sushi-like” domains, unlike the classical cytokine receptor fold. As a result of this domain swap, IL-2Rα uses a composite surface to dock into a groove on IL-2 that also serves as a binding site for antagonist drugs. With this complex, we now have representative structures for each class of hematopoietic cytokine receptor–docking modules.

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