Structures and biological functions of IL-31 and IL-31 receptors
Interleukin-31, produced mainly by activated CD4(+) T cells, is a newly discovered member of the gp130/IL-6 cytokine family. Unlike all the other family members, IL-31 does not engage gp130. Its receptor heterodimer consists of a unique gp130-like receptor chain IL-31RA, and the receptor subunit OSMRbeta that is shared with another family member oncostatin M (OSM). Binding of IL-31 to its receptor activates Jak/STAT, PI3K/AKT and MAPK pathways. IL-31 acts on a broad range of immune- and non-immune cells and therefore possesses potential pleiotropic physiological functions, including regulating hematopoiesis and immune response, causing inflammatory bowel disease, airway hypersensitivity and dermatitis. This review summarizes the recent findings on the biological characterization and physiological roles of IL-31 and its receptors.