Signalling in lymphocytes through cytokine receptors is critical for their development, activation and differentiation into effector cells that mediate protection against pathogens and provide the host with protective immunological memory. The essential role of cytokine signalling has been established not only by the generation and examination of gene-targeted mice, but also 'Experiments of Nature' whereby monogenic mutations cause primary immunodeficient conditions characterised by impaired immunity to infectious diseases due to compromised lymphocyte function. Mutations in STAT3 cause autosomal dominant hyper-IgE syndrome. Here, we will review how the study of STAT3-deficient individuals has revealed non-redundant functions of STAT3 and specific cytokines in human lymphocyte biology, and have delineated mechanisms underlying the distinct clinical features of autosomal dominant hyper-IgE syndrome.
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