IL-2 Signaling Pathways and their Primary Biological Effects in Different Immune Cell Types

Click on one of the buttons below to see either the IL-2 signaling pathways or information related to one of the other common cytokine receptor gamma-chain family members.

IL-2
IL-2
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IL-2 R
IL-2 R
Regulates Activated
T Cell Proliferation
Regulates Activated
T Cell Proliferation
Activated T Cell
Activated T Cell

Proliferation/Survival

Proliferation/Survival

IL-2
IL-2
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IL-2 R
IL-2 R
IL-2
IL-2
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IL-2 R
IL-2 R
Fas L or TNF-alpha
Fas L or TNF-alpha
Fas, TNF RI,
or TNF RII
Fas, TNF RI,
or TNF RII
Promotes Activation-Induced
Cell Death
Promotes Activation-Induced
Cell Death
Proliferating/Activated
CD4+ T Cells
Proliferating/Activated
CD4+ T Cells
Antigen
Antigen

Activation-Induced Cell Death

Activation-Induced Cell Death

Maintenance of Peripheral
Self-Tolerance

Maintenance of Peripheral
Self-Tolerance

IL-2
IL-2
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TGF-beta
TGF-beta
IL-2 R
IL-2 R
IL-2
IL-2
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IL-2 R
IL-2 R
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FoxP3
FoxP3
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TGF-beta
TGF-beta
IL-10
IL-10
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IL-35
IL-35
Promotes Regulatory T Cell
Development, Survival, &
Maintenance
Promotes Regulatory T Cell
Development, Survival, &
Maintenance
Dendritic Cell
Dendritic Cell
Naive T Cell
Naive T Cell

Regulatory T Cell
Development

Regulatory T Cell
Development

Regulatory T Cells
Regulatory T Cells

Maintenance

Maintenance

Effector T Cells
Effector T Cells

Effects on Regulatory T Cells

Effects on Regulatory T Cells

IL-2
IL-2
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IL-2 R
IL-2 R
Inhibits Division of CD8+
Memory T Cells
Inhibits Division of CD8+
Memory T Cells
Activated
CD8+ T Cell
Activated
CD8+ T Cell

Division

Division

Regulatory T Cell
Regulatory T Cell
Memory
CD8+ T Cell
Memory
CD8+ T Cell

Inhibits Division

Inhibits Division

IL-2
IL-2
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IL-2 R
IL-2 R
Promotes B Cell
Proliferation
Promotes B Cell
Proliferation
B Cell
B Cell

Proliferation

Proliferation

IL-2
IL-2
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IL-2 R
IL-2 R
Promotes Immunoglobulin
Production
Promotes Immunoglobulin
Production
Activated
B Cell
Activated
B Cell
Plasma Cell
Plasma Cell

Immunoglobulin Production

Immunoglobulin Production

Overview of Primary Biological Effects of IL-2 Signaling in Different Immune Cell Types

Interleukin-2 (IL-2) is an O-glycosylated four alpha-helix bundle cytokine that is primarily produced by activated T cells, dendritic cells, and B cells. The biological activity of IL-2 is mediated by binding to a cell surface receptor complex consisting of IL-2 R alpha/CD25, IL-2/IL-15 R beta, and the common gamma-chain/IL-2 R gamma subunit. IL-2 can also bind with low affinity to IL-2 R alpha alone, or with intermediate affinity to a complex consisting of IL-2/IL-15 R beta and the common gamma-chain subunit. Functionally, IL-2 induces the expression of both IL-2 and IL-2 R alpha on activated CD4+ and CD8+ T cells and stimulates their proliferation. In contrast, IL-2 also plays an important role in the maintenance of peripheral self-tolerance both by initiating Fas-mediated activation-induced cell death of CD4+ T cells following antigen restimulation and by its ability to promote the differentiation and survival of regulatory T cells. Rather than displaying a severe immunodeficient phenotype, mice lacking IL-2, IL-2 R alpha, or IL-2 R beta accumulate activated T lymphocytes, have reduced numbers of regulatory T cells, and develop autoimmune diseases. This suggests that the maintenance of T cell homeostasis and prevention of self-reactivity is the primary function of IL-2 signaling. In addition, IL-2 may enhance the cytotoxicity of natural killer cells and may be required for B cell proliferation and immunoglobulin production.

To learn more, please visit our Common gamma Chain Receptor Family Research Area.