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The heterodimeric cytokine interleukin 27 (IL-27) signals through the IL-27Rα subunit of its receptor, combined with gp130, a common receptor chain used by several cytokines, including IL-6. Notably, the IL-27 subunits p28 (IL-27p28) and EBI3 are not always expressed together, which suggests that they may have unique functions. Here we show that IL-27p28, independently of EBI3, antagonized cytokine signaling through gp130 and IL-6-mediated production of IL-17 and IL-10. Similarly, the ability to generate antibody responses was dependent on the activity of gp130-signaling cytokines. Mice transgenic for expression of IL-27p28 showed a substantial defect in the formation of germinal centers and antibody production. Thus, IL-27p28, as a natural antagonist of gp130-mediated signaling, may be useful as a therapeutic for managing inflammation mediated by cytokines that signal through gp130.

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  • 21 January 2011

    In the version of this article initially published, the author name M. Merle Elloso and the associated affiliation were incorrect. The correct affiliation is Centocor Research and Development, Inc. The error has been corrected in the HTML and PDF versions of the article.




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We thank D. Gorman for generating the IL-27 and IL-27p28 minicircles. Supported by the US National Institutes for Health (AI-042334 to C.A.H.; AI-054488 to M.P.C.; 1-T32-AI-055428 to J.S.S. and W.J.Q. III; and 2-T32-AI-007532-11 to E.D.T.), the Abramson Cancer Center (Center for Digestive Diseases), the state of Pennsylvania, the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (Bonn, Germany; SFB415, B5 to S.R-J., and SFB415, B7 to J.G. and B.S.), the Cluster of Excellence 'Inflammation at Interfaces' and the Marie Lowe Cancer Center of the University of Pennsylvania (C.A.H.).

Author information

Author notes

    • Jason S Stumhofer
    • , Elia D Tait
    •  & William J Quinn III

    These authors contributed equally to this work.


  1. University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA.

    • Jason S Stumhofer
    • , Elia D Tait
    • , Aisling C O'Hara
    •  & Christopher A Hunter
  2. University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA.

    • William J Quinn III
    • , Radhika Goenka
    •  & Michael P Cancro
  3. Department of Immunology, ZymoGenetics, Seattle, Washington, USA.

    • Nancy Hosken
    •  & Steven D Levin
  4. Institute for Biochemistry, Christian-Albrechts-University of Kiel, Kiel, Germany.

    • Björn Spudy
    • , Stefan Rose-John
    •  & Joachim Grötzinger
  5. Cardiff University, School of Medicine, Cardiff, UK.

    • Ceri A Fielding
    •  & Simon A Jones
  6. Merck Research Laboratories, DNAX Discovery Research, Palo Alto, California, USA.

    • Yi Chen
    •  & Daniel J Cua
  7. Shenandoah Biotechnology, Warwick, Pennsylvania, USA.

    • Michael L Jones
  8. Department of Inflammation Research, Amgen, Thousand Oaks, California, USA.

    • Christiaan J M Saris
  9. Centocor Research and Development, Inc., Radnor, Pennsylvania, USA.

    • M Merle Elloso


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J.S.S. and C.A.H. contributed to all studies and wrote the manuscript; E.D.T., W.J.Q. III, N.H., M.P.C. and S.D.L. were involved in analyzing p28-transgenic mice; R.G. contributed to studies of GC formation; C.J.M.S. contributed to the studies of Il27ra−/− mice; M.M.E. contributed to studies with Ebi3−/− mice; A.C.O. contributed to studies of intracellular staining for IL-27p28; B.S., S.R.-J. and J.G. did the p28-gp130 modeling and contributed to its analysis; C.A.F. and S.A.J. did the biacore assays and contributed to their analysis; M.L.J. provided the recombinant IL-27p28 protein; and Y.C. and D.J.C. did hydrodynamics-based transfection experiments with minicircle DNA and contributed to their analysis.

Competing interests

C.A.H. and J.S.S. have a patent application on the use of p28 to limit gp130 signaling. N.H. and S.D.L. are employees of ZymoGenetics; Y.C. and D.J.C. are employees of DNAX Discovery Research; M.L.J. is an employee of Shenandoah Biotechnology; C.J.M.S. is an employee of Amgen; and M.M.E. is an employee of Centocor Research and Development.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Christopher A Hunter.

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