Molecular interactions within the IL-6/IL-12 cytokine/receptor superfamily

Immunol Res. 2011 Oct;51(1):5-14. doi: 10.1007/s12026-011-8209-y.


Production of cytokines by immune cells in response to stimuli and the binding of cytokines to specific receptors on target cells is a central feature of the immune response. The IL-12 cytokine family is particularly influential in determining the fate of T cells and is characterized by the sharing of cytokine and receptor subunits. A thorough understanding of the molecular interactions within this family will be a key to the development of therapeutic inhibitors or enhancers of IL-12 family function. While the current structural and molecular data for IL-12 family members is limited, there is ample information on the structurally related IL-6 cytokine family. This review will summarize the current structural and mutagenesis data within the IL-12 family and will attempt to utilize similarities between the IL-6 and IL-12 families to understand molecular interactions between IL-12 family subunits and with receptor components.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Humans
  • Mutagenesis
  • Protein Structure, Quaternary
  • Protein Structure, Tertiary
  • Receptors, Interleukin-12* / chemistry
  • Receptors, Interleukin-12* / genetics
  • Receptors, Interleukin-12* / immunology
  • Receptors, Interleukin-12* / metabolism
  • Receptors, Interleukin-6* / chemistry
  • Receptors, Interleukin-6* / genetics
  • Receptors, Interleukin-6* / immunology
  • Receptors, Interleukin-6* / metabolism
  • Structure-Activity Relationship
  • T-Lymphocytes* / chemistry
  • T-Lymphocytes* / immunology
  • T-Lymphocytes* / metabolism


  • Receptors, Interleukin-12
  • Receptors, Interleukin-6