Simultaneous dissection and comparison of IL-2 and IL-15 signaling pathways by global quantitative phosphoproteomics

Proteomics. 2015 Jan;15(2-3):520-31. doi: 10.1002/pmic.201400194. Epub 2014 Sep 30.


Common γ-chain family of cytokines (IL-2, IL-4, IL-7, IL-9, IL-15, and IL-21, where IL stands for interleukin) are key regulators of the immune homeostasis that exhibit pleiotropic biological activities and even sometimes redundant roles as a result of the utilization of the same receptor subunit. However, they also exert distinct functions that make each of them to be indispensable. For instance, all family members can act as T-cell growth factors; however, we found that IL-15 but not IL-7 can replace IL-2 to promote and sustain the proliferation of Kit225T cells. In addition to the γ-chain, IL-2 and IL-15 share the β-chain, which creates the paradox of how they can trigger diverse phenotypes despite signaling through the same receptors. To investigate this paradigm, we combined SILAC with enrichment of tyrosine-phosphorylated proteins and peptides followed by mass spectrometric analysis to quantitatively assess the signaling networks triggered downstream IL-2/IL-2R and IL-15/IL-15R. This study confirmed that the transduction pathways initiated by both cytokines are highly similar and revealed that the main signaling branches, JAK/STAT, RAS/MAPK and PI3K/AKT, were nearly equivalently activated in response to both ILs. Despite that, our study revealed that receptor internalization rates differ in IL-2- and IL-15-treated cells indicating a discrete modulation of cytokine signaling. All MS data have been deposited in the ProteomeXchange with identifier PXD001129 (

Keywords: Cell biology; IL-15; IL-2; Quantitative phosphoproteomics; SILAC; Signaling.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Cell Proliferation
  • Endocytosis
  • Humans
  • Interleukin-15 / immunology*
  • Interleukin-2 / immunology*
  • Interleukin-7 / immunology
  • Phosphorylation
  • Proteomics
  • Signal Transduction*
  • T-Lymphocytes / cytology
  • T-Lymphocytes / immunology*


  • Interleukin-15
  • Interleukin-2
  • Interleukin-7