The interleukin-6 (IL-6) family of cytokines includes IL-6, IL-11, leukemia inhibitory factor (LIF), oncostatin M (OSM), ciliary neurotrophic factor (CNTF), cardiotrophin-like cytokine (CLC) and cardiotrophin-1 (CT-1).
The IL-6 family cytokines exhibit a four-helix bundle structure. In addition, the receptors of the IL-6 family cytokines share a receptor subunit, which explains one of the mechanisms of functional redundancy.
Members of the IL-6 family cytokines utilize one or both of the shared receptor signal transducing subunits, gp130 and LIF receptor (LIFR). IL-31 has also been placed in IL-6 family due to its four-helix bundle structure. IL-6 family binding of gp130 activates the JAK/STAT signaling pathway. Cytokines belonging to the IL-6 family function in many biological processes. IL-6 and IL-16 receptor have been implicated in prostate cancer progression.
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The IL-6 family of cytokines is a group of functionally and structurally related proteins. These cytokines regulate a variety of complex biological processes, including hematopoiesis, immune response, inflammation, proliferation, differentiation, mammalian reproduction, cardiovascular action, and neuronal survival.
The IL-6 family of cytokines signalling through the common receptor subunit gp130 comprises IL-6, IL-11, leukaemia inhibitory factor, oncostatin M, ciliary neurotrophic factor and cardiotrophin-1. These so-called IL-6 family of cytokines play an important role in the regulation of complex cellular processes such as gene activation, proliferation and differentiation.
These cytokines are referred to as IL-6 family because all members of this family utilize glycoprotein 130 as a common signal transducer within their receptor complex that is required for signaling.
All cytokines in the IL-6 family signal through the common receptor subunit gp130 via the Janus Kinase/Signal Transducer and Activator of Transcription (JAK/STAT) pathway. The first event in activation of the Jak STAT signalling pathway is the ligand-induced homo- or hetero-dimerization of signal-transducing receptor subunits. All IL-6 family cytokines recruit gp130 to their receptor complexes. They either signal via gp130 alone or in combination with LIFR or the recently cloned OSMR, which are all able to activate Jaks and to recruit STAT proteins. IL-6 induces gp130-homodimerization, whereas CNTF, LIF, and CT-1 signal via heterodimerization of gp130 and LIFR.