[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: IL-21 is a class I cytokine that exerts pleiotropic effects on both innate and adaptive immune responses. It signals through a heterodimeric receptor complex consisting of the IL-21 receptor (IL-21R) and the common γ-chain. A hallmark of the class I cytokine receptors is the class I cytokine receptor signature motif (WSXWS). The exact role of this motif has not been determined yet; however, it has been implicated in diverse functions, including ligand binding, receptor internalization, proper folding, and export, as well as signal transduction. Furthermore, the WXXW motif is known to be a consensus sequence for C-mannosylation. Here, we present the crystal structure of IL-21 bound to IL-21R and reveal that the WSXWS motif of IL-21R is C-mannosylated at the first tryptophan. We furthermore demonstrate that a sugar chain bridges the two fibronectin domains that constitute the extracellular domain of IL-21R and anchors at the WSXWS motif through an extensive hydrogen bonding network, including mannosylation. The glycan thus transforms the V-shaped receptor into an A-frame. This finding offers a novel structural explanation of the role of the class I cytokine signature motif.
Journal of Biological Chemistry 01/2012; 287(12):9454-60. · 4.65 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The cytokine interleukin (IL)-21 exerts pleiotropic effects acting through innate as well as adaptive immune responses. The activities of IL-21 are mediated through binding to its cognate receptor complex composed of the IL-21 receptor private chain (IL-21Ralpha) and the common gamma-chain (gammaC), the latter being shared by IL-2, IL-4, IL-7, IL-9, and IL-15. The binding energy of the IL-21 ternary complex is predominantly provided by the high affinity interaction between IL-21 and IL-21Ralpha, whereas the interaction between IL-21 and gammaC, albeit essential for signaling, is rather weak. The design of IL-21 analogues, which have lost most or all affinity toward the signaling gammaC chain, while simultaneously maintaining a tight interaction with the private chain, would in theory represent candidates for IL-21 antagonists. We predicted the IL-21 residues, which compose the gammaC binding epitope using homology modeling and alignment with the related cytokines, IL-2 and IL-4. Next we systematically analyzed the predicted binding epitope by a mutagenesis study. Indeed two mutants, which have significantly impaired gammaC affinity with undiminished IL-21Ralpha affinity, were successfully identified. Functional studies confirmed that these two novel hIL-21 double mutants do act as hIL-21 antagonists.
Journal of Biological Chemistry 02/2010; 285(16):12223-31. · 4.65 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The high resolution three-dimensional structure of human interleukin (hIL)-21 has been resolved by heteronuclear NMR spectroscopy. Overall, the hIL-21 structure is dominated by a well defined central four-helical bundle, arranged in an up-up-down-down topology, as observed for other cytokines. A segment of the hIL-21 molecule that includes the third helical segment, helix C, is observed to exist in two distinct and interchangeable states. In one conformer, the helix C segment is presented in a regular, alpha-helical conformation, whereas in the other conformer, this segment is largely disordered. A structure-based sequence alignment of hIL-21 with receptor complexes of the related cytokines, interleukin-2 and -4, implied that this particular segment is involved in receptor binding. An hIL-21 analog was designed to stabilize the region around helix C through the introduction of a segment grafted from hIL-4. This novel hIL-21 analog was demonstrated to exhibit a 10-fold increase in potency in a cellular assay.
Journal of Biological Chemistry 09/2007; 282(32):23326-36. · 4.65 Impact Factor