The common gamma-chain (gamma(c)) is an indispensable subunit of the functional receptor complexes for IL-4, IL-7, IL-9, and IL-15 as well as IL-2. Here we show that the gamma(c) is also shared with the IL-21R complex. Although IL-21 binds to the IL-21R expressed on gamma(c)-deficient ED40515(-) cells, IL-21 is unable to transduce any intracytoplasmic signals. However, in EDgamma-16 cells, a gamma(c)-transfected ED40515(-) cell line, IL-21 binds to the IL-21R and can activate Janus kinase (JAK)1, JAK3, STAT1, and STAT3. The chemical cross-linking study reveals the direct binding of IL-21 to the gamma(c). These data clearly demonstrate that the gamma(c) is an indispensable subunit of the functional IL-21R complex.
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