Glycoprotein 130 (gp130) is a type I transmembrane protein and serves as the common signal-transducing receptor subunit of the interleukin-6-type cytokines. Whereas the membrane-distal half of the gp130 extracellular part confers ligand binding and has been subject to intense investigation, the structural and functional features of its membrane-proximal half are poorly understood. On the basis of predictions of tertiary structure, the membrane-proximal part consists of three fibronectin-type-III-like domains D4, D5 and D6. Here we describe the bacterial expression of the polypeptides predicted to comprise each of these three domains. The recombinant proteins were refolded from solubilized inclusion bodies in vitro, purified to homogeneity and characterized by means of size-exclusion chromatography and CD spectroscopy. For the first time the prediction of three individual membrane-proximal protein domains for gp130has been verified experimentally. The three domains do not show intermediate-affinity or high-affinity interactions between each other. Mapping of a neutralizing gp130 monoclonal antibody against D4 suggested a particular functional role of this domain for gp130 activation, because above that an intrinsic tendency for low-affinity oligomerization was demonstrated for D4.

Abbreviations used: CBM, cytokine-binding module; FNIII, fibronectin type III; G-CSFR, granulocyte colony-stimulating factor receptor; IL, interleukin; LIFR, leukaemia inhibitory factor receptor; mAb, monoclonal antibody; OSM, oncostatin M; PDGFR, platelet-derived growth factor receptor; TCCR, T-cell cytokine receptor.

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