IL-6 Signaling


Pathway Description

Interleukin 6 (IL-6) is considered a regulator of acute-phase responses and a lymphocyte stimulatory factor. The central role of IL-6 in inflammation makes it an important target for the management of infectious and inflammatory diseases. IL-6 responses are transmitted through Glycoprotein 130 (GP130), which serves as the universal signal-transducing receptor subunit for all IL-6-related cytokines.IL-6-type cytokines utilize tyrosine kinases of the Janus Kinase (JAK) family and signal transducers and activators of transcription (STAT) family as major mediators of signal transduction. Upon receptor stimulation by IL-6, the JAK family of kinases associated with GP130 are activated, resulting in the phosphorylation of GP130. Several phosphotyrosine residues of GP130 serve as docking sites for STAT factors mainly STAT3 and STAT1. Subsequently, STATs are phosphorylated, form dimers and translocate to the nucleus, where they regulate transcription of target genes.

In addition to the JAK/STAT pathway of signal transduction, IL-6 also activates the extracellular signal-regulated kinases (ERK1/2) of the mitogen activated protein kinase (MAPK) pathway. The upstream activators of ERK1/2 include RAS and the src homology-2 containing proteins GRB2 and SHC. The SHC protein is activated by JAK2 and thus serves as a link between the IL-6 activated JAK/STAT and RAS-MAPK pathways.

The phosphorylation of MAPKs in response to IL-6 activated RAS results in the activation of nuclear factor IL-6 (NF-IL6), which in turn stimulates the transcription of the IL-6 gene. The transcription of the IL-6 gene is also stimulated by tumor necrosis factor (TNF) and Interleukin-1 (IL-1) via the activation of nuclear factor kappa B (NFκB).

This pathway highlights the important molecular components involved in IL-6 signaling.