Interleukin 26

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Interleukin-26 (IL-26) is a protein that in humans is encoded by the IL26 gene.[1][2][3]

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.[2] IL-26 signals through a receptor complex comprising two distinct proteins called IL-20 receptor 1 and IL-10 receptor 2.[4] 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.[5]


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.[6]


  1. "Entrez Gene: interleukin 26".
  2. 2.0 2.1 Knappe A, Hör S, Wittmann S, Fickenscher H (April 2000). "Induction of a novel cellular homolog of interleukin-10, AK155, by transformation of T lymphocytes with herpesvirus saimiri". J. Virol. 74 (8): 3881–7. doi:10.1128/JVI.74.8.3881-3887.2000. PMC 111897. PMID 10729163.
  3. Goris A, Marrosu MG, Vandenbroeck K (August 2001). "Novel polymorphisms in the IL-10 related AK155 gene (chromosome 12q15)". Genes Immun. 2 (5): 284–6. doi:10.1038/sj.gene.6363772. PMID 11528524.
  4. Sheikh F, Baurin VV, Lewis-Antes A, Shah NK, Smirnov SV, Anantha S, Dickensheets H, Dumoutier L, Renauld JC, Zdanov A, Donnelly RP, Kotenko SV (February 2004). "Cutting edge: IL-26 signals through a novel receptor complex composed of IL-20 receptor 1 and IL-10 receptor 2". J. Immunol. 172 (4): 2006–10. doi:10.4049/jimmunol.172.4.2006. PMID 14764663.
  5. Hör S, Pirzer H, Dumoutier L, Bauer F, Wittmann S, Sticht H, Renauld J, de Waal Malefyt R, Fickenscher H (2004). "The T-cell lymphokine interleukin-26 targets epithelial cells through the interleukin-20 receptor 1 and interleukin-10 receptor 2 chains". J Biol Chem. 279 (32): 33343–51. doi:10.1074/jbc.M405000200. PMID 15178681.
  6. Meller, Stephan; Di Domizio, Jeremy; Voo, Kui S.; Friedrich, Heike C.; Chamilos, Georgios; Ganguly, Dipyaman; Conrad, Curdin; Gregorio, Josh; Le Roy, Didier (2015-09-01). "T(H)17 cells promote microbial killing and innate immune sensing of DNA via interleukin 26". Nature Immunology. 16 (9): 970–979. doi:10.1038/ni.3211. ISSN 1529-2916. PMC 4776746. PMID 26168081.

Further reading

Meller, S., Di Domizio, J., Voo, K. S., Friedrich, H. C., Chamilos, G., Ganguly, D., ... & Ladbury, J. E. (2015). TH17 cells promote microbial killing and innate immune sensing of DNA via interleukin 26. Nature immunology, 16(9), 970-979.