Interleukin-4 (IL-4) is a pleiotropic lymphokine which plays an important role in the immune system. IL-4 activates two distinct signalling pathways through tyrosine phosphorylation of Stat6, a signal transducer and activator of transcription, and of a 170K protein called 4PS. To investigate the functional role of Stat6 in IL-4 signalling, we generated mice deficient in Stat6 by gene targeting. We report here that in the mutant mice, expression of CD23 and major histocompatibility complex (MHC) class II in resting B cells was not enhanced in response to IL-4. IL-4 induced B-cell proliferation costimulated by anti-IgM antibody was abolished. The T-cell proliferative response was also notably reduced. Furthermore, production of Th2 cytokines from T cells as well as IgE and IgG1 responses after nematode infection were profoundly reduced. These findings agreed with those obtained in IL-4 deficient mice or using antibodies to IL-4 and the IL-4 receptor. We conclude that Stat6 plays a central role in exerting IL-4 mediated biological responses.
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