IL-26 is a 171-amino acid protein, which is similar in amino acid sequence to interleukin 10. It was originally called AK155 and is composed of a signal sequence, 6 helices, and 4 conserved cysteine residues. IL-26 is expressed in certain herpesvirus-transformed T cells but not in primary stimulated T cells. IL-26 signals through a receptor complex comprising two distinct proteins called IL-20 receptor 1 and IL-10 receptor 2. By signaling through this receptor complex, IL-26 induces rapid phosphorylation of the transcription factors STAT1 and STAT3, which enhance IL-10 and IL-8 secretion and as expression of the CD54 molecule on the surface of epithelial cells.
Interleukin 26 (IL-26), is a natural human antimicrobial that promotes immune sensing of bacterial and host cell death. IL-26, a human TH17 cell–derived cytokine, is a cationic amphipathic protein that kills extracellular bacteria via membrane-pore formation. Furthermore, TH17 cell–derived IL-26 formed complexes with bacterial DNA and self-DNA released by dying bacteria and host cells. The IL-26–DNA complexes triggered the production of type I interferon by plasmacytoid dendritic cells via activation of Toll-like receptor 9, but independently of the IL-26 receptor.
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