Interleukin 2 (IL-2) augments transcription of the IL-2 receptor gene

Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1985 Jun;82(12):4230-4. doi: 10.1073/pnas.82.12.4230.


We demonstrate that purified interleukin 2 (IL-2) can directly upregulate IL-2 receptor expression on phytohemagglutinin-activated T lymphocytes maintained in culture until IL-2 receptor expression had markedly declined. The IL-2-induced increase in IL-2 receptor number is maximal within 12 hr, requires new RNA and protein synthesis, and is mediated by an interaction of ligand with the high-affinity receptors for IL-2. IL-2 stimulation results in increased accumulation of IL-2 receptor mRNA within 4 hr, while an increase in IL-2 receptor gene transcription is detected within 30 min in isolated nuclei. In addition, IL-2 incubation results in increased amounts of c-myc and transferrin receptor mRNA, but it does not augment levels of mRNA encoding the beta chain of the T-cell receptor for antigen. These results demonstrate that IL-2 can directly upregulate transcription and expression of its own receptor and, therefore, indicate that IL-2 may regulate IL-2-dependent immune responses, in part, by influencing the expression of IL-2 receptors.

MeSH terms

  • Cells, Cultured
  • Gene Expression Regulation / drug effects
  • Humans
  • Interleukin-2 / pharmacology*
  • Lymphocytes / physiology*
  • Oncogenes
  • Phytohemagglutinins / pharmacology
  • Protein Biosynthesis
  • RNA, Messenger / genetics
  • Receptors, Cell Surface / genetics
  • Receptors, Immunologic / genetics*
  • Receptors, Immunologic / metabolism
  • Receptors, Interleukin-2
  • Receptors, Transferrin
  • Tetradecanoylphorbol Acetate / pharmacology
  • Transcription, Genetic / drug effects


  • Interleukin-2
  • Phytohemagglutinins
  • RNA, Messenger
  • Receptors, Cell Surface
  • Receptors, Immunologic
  • Receptors, Interleukin-2
  • Receptors, Transferrin
  • Tetradecanoylphorbol Acetate