Interleukin-11 (IL-11) is a polyfunctional cytokine whose biological actions require a specific IL-11 receptor (IL-11R) and the transmembrane transducer gp130. Here we report the production of a soluble form of the murine IL-11R and demonstrate that it interacts with IL-11 ligand with high affinity. The affinity of IL-11 alone for gp130 is below the level of detection, but a complex of IL-11 and soluble IL-11R interacts with gp130 with high affinity. The addition of soluble IL-11R potentiates the effects of exogenous IL-11 in cells that are normally responsive to IL-11. A biological response to IL-11 can be reconstituted in BAF cells transfected with gp130 by addition of IL-11 and soluble IL-11R. These findings show that the cytoplasmic domain of the IL-11R is not required for the biological effects of IL-11 and that a complex of IL-11 and IL-11R mediates signalling by association with gp130.

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