Preliminary indications that recombinant human IL-16 attracts and stimulates lymphocytes of the amphibian, Xenopus laevis implying an ancestral role for CD4 as a cytokine receptor

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© 2020 The D1 domain of the CD4 co-receptor interacts with MHC class II during Helper CD4+ Th-cell activation and effector function in all gnathostomes but the sequence and structure of this region are not well conserved through phylogeny. Conversely, the proximal D4 domain of CD4 is the binding site of the cytokine IL-16 and is highly conserved, allowing for promiscuous binding of IL-16 to CD4 between disparate gnathostomes. We report here that recombinant human IL-16 (rhIL-16) bound to Xenopus lymphocytes to allow separation on a magnetic column. Incubation with rhIL-16 resulted in an increased expression of MHC class II mRNA by Xenopus CD8− cells more than by CD8+ cells. An in vivo assay demonstrated that rhIL-16 can recruit lymphocytes of Xenopus frogs. Our data suggest that a subset of Xenopus laevis lymphocytes express a CD4 homolog on their surface that is capable of binding IL-16. These results imply that CD4 most likely arose from a primordial cytokine receptor.

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