Interleukin-4 (IL-4) modulates the survival, proliferation, and differentiation of a variety of hematopoietic cells. The effects are mediated through a single class of high-affinity receptors for IL-4. To understand the biologic effects of IL-4 on human T cells, we studied the regulation of IL-4 receptor (IL-4R) gene expression. We showed that IL-4R mRNA accumulation in human T cells is enhanced fourfold after activation of different secondary signaling pathways by concanavalin A (Con A), phorbol myristate acetate (PMA), the calcium ionophore A23187, and combinations of these factors. This could be ascribed to an increase in the IL-4R transcription rate and to stabilization of IL-4R mRNA resulting in a half-life of 80 to 90 minutes (v 35 to 40 minutes in resting T cells). IL-4 did enhance the IL-4R mRNA accumulation by a factor 10, which was caused by an increase in the IL-4R transcription rate and prolonging the half-life of IL-4R transcripts to 140 to 160 minutes. Finally, it was shown that A23187 induced IL-4R mRNA expression is a protein synthesis-dependent process. In contrast, Con A- , PMA-, Con A + PMA-, and Con A + A23187-induced expression of IL-4R mRNA is protein-synthesis independent. Cyclosporine A inhibited the A23187- and Con A + A23187-induced IL-4R mRNA accumulation, whereas Con A-, PMA-, and Con A + PMA-induced IL-4R mRNA expression was not affected by this drug. These data indicate that expression of IL-4 receptors on human T cells can be modulated by different intracellular signaling pathways at both transcriptional and posttranscriptional levels.

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