Interleukin-4 (IL-4), also known as B cell-stimulatory factor-1, is a monomeric, approximately 13-18 kDa Th2 cytokine that shows pleiotropic effects during immune responses (1‑3). It is a glycosylated polypeptide that contains three intrachain disulfide bridges and adopts a bundled four alpha -helix structure (4). Rat IL-4 is synthesized with a 24 amino acid (aa) signal sequence. Mature rat IL-4 shares 41%, 43%, and 59% aa sequence identity with bovine, human, and mouse IL-4, respectively. Human, mouse, and rat IL-4 are species-specific in their activities (5-7). IL-4 exerts its effects through two receptor complexes (8, 9). The type I receptor, which is expressed on hematopoietic cells, is a heterodimer of the ligand binding IL-4 R alpha and the common gamma chain (a shared subunit of the receptors for IL-2, -7, -9, -15, and ‑21). The type II receptor on nonhematopoietic cells consists of IL-4 R alpha and IL-13 R alpha 1. The type II receptor also transduces IL-13 mediated signals. IL-4 is primarily expressed by Th2-biased CD4+ T cells, mast cells, basophils, and eosinophils (1, 2). It promotes cell proliferation, survival, and immunoglobulin class switch to IgG1 and IgE in rodent B cells, acquisition of the Th2 phenotype by naïve CD4+ T cells, priming and chemotaxis of mast cells, eosinophils, and basophils, and the proliferation and activation of epithelial cells (10-13). IL-4 plays a dominant role in the development of allergic inflammation and asthma (12, 14).
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