In vivo regulation of the allergic response by the IL-4 receptor alpha chain immunoreceptor tyrosine-based inhibitory motif

J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2010 May;125(5):1128-1136.e8. doi: 10.1016/j.jaci.2010.01.054. Epub 2010 Apr 14.


Background: Signaling by IL-4 and IL-13 through the IL-4 receptor alpha chain (IL-4Ralpha) plays a critical role in the pathology of allergic diseases. The IL-4Ralpha is endowed with an immunoreceptor tyrosine-based inhibitory motif (ITIM) centered on tyrosine 709 (Y709) in the cytoplasmic domain that binds a number of regulatory phosphatases. The function of the ITIM in the in vivo regulation of IL-4 receptor signaling remains unknown.

Objective: We sought to determine the in vivo function of the IL-4Ralpha ITIM by using mice in which the ITIM was inactivated by mutagenesis of the tyrosine Y709 residue into phenylalanine (F709).

Methods: F709 ITIM mutant mice were derived by means of knock-in mutagenesis. Activation of intracellular signaling cascades by IL-4 and IL-13 was assessed by means of intracellular staining of phosphorylated signaling intermediates and gene expression analysis. In vivo responses to allergic sensitization were assessed by using models of allergic airway inflammation.

Results: The F709 mutation increased signal transducer and activator of transcription 6 phosphorylation by IL-4 and, disproportionately, by IL-13. This was associated with exaggerated T(H)2 polarization, enhanced alternative macrophage activation by IL-13, augmented basal and antigen-induced IgE responses, and intensified allergen-induced eosinophilic airway inflammation and hyperreactivity.

Conclusions: These results point to a physiologic negative regulatory role for the Y709 ITIM in signaling through IL-4Ralpha, especially by IL-13.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Motifs / genetics
  • Amino Acid Motifs / immunology*
  • Animals
  • Humans
  • Inflammation / etiology
  • Inflammation / immunology*
  • Interleukin-13 / genetics
  • Interleukin-13 / metabolism
  • Interleukin-4 / metabolism
  • Mice
  • Mutation
  • Phosphorylation
  • Receptors, Cell Surface* / chemistry
  • Receptors, Cell Surface* / genetics
  • Receptors, Cell Surface* / metabolism
  • Respiratory Hypersensitivity / etiology
  • Respiratory Hypersensitivity / immunology*
  • STAT6 Transcription Factor / genetics
  • STAT6 Transcription Factor / metabolism
  • Signal Transduction
  • Tyrosine / chemistry*


  • Il4ra protein, mouse
  • Interleukin-13
  • Receptors, Cell Surface
  • STAT6 Transcription Factor
  • Interleukin-4
  • Tyrosine