Functional reconstitution of the human interleukin-3 receptor

T Kitamura and A Miyajima


The high-affinity receptors for human interleukin-3 (IL-3), GM-CSF, and IL-5 are composed of alpha and beta subunits. The alpha subunits are primary ligand binding proteins specific for each ligand, whereas the three human receptors share a common beta subunit (beta c). In contrast to humans mice have two closely related genes, AIC2A and AIC2B, which are homologous to human beta c. The AIC2A gene encodes a low-affinity murine IL-3 binding protein, and the AIC2B protein is the beta subunit shared between murine GM-CSF receptors (mGMR) and IL-5 receptors (mIL- 5R). To examine the function of these receptor components, we established various stable transfectants of murine IL-2-dependent CTLL- 2 cells. CTLL-2 transfectants expressing both the alpha and beta subunits of the human IL-3 receptor (hIL-3R) proliferated in response to physiologic concentrations of hIL-3. Coexpression of hIL-3R alpha with AIC2B but not with AIC2A in CTLL-2 cells conferred a growth response to hIL-3. Although CTLL-2 transfectants expressing hIL-3R alpha alone did not proliferate in the presence of hIL-3, hIL-3- responsive sublines were repeatedly isolated. These sublines expressed endogenous AIC2B but not AIC2A. These results indicate that human beta c is essential for hIL-3 signaling and that AIC2B is a murine equivalent of human beta c. We also showed that hIL-3 and hGM-CSF induced tyrosine phosphorylation of several proteins in CTLL transfectants, similar to those observed in human factor-dependent TF-1 cells stimulated with hIL-3 and hGM-CSF.