Interleukin-3 (IL-3), IL-5, and granulocyte-macrophage colony-stimulating factor (GM-CSF) are related cytokines that signal through receptors possessing the β common (βc) chain. As a family, these cytokines combine rather non-specific hematopoietic growth factor properties with a special importance for eosinophils, basophils, and mast cells. In fish the cytokines of this family are called IL-5fam, and the present study, using carp, constitutes their first functional analysis. Carp il-5fam expression was enhanced by stimulation with phytohemagglutinin and killed bacteria. Reminiscent of mammalian IL-3/IL-5/GM-CSF family members, recombinant carp IL-5fam (rcIL-5fam) induced activation of transcription factor STAT5 and efficiently promoted proliferation and colony-formation of eosinophil/basophil/mast-cell type (EBM) granulocytes. Upon addition of recombinant carp βc the growth effect of rcIL-5fam was reduced, suggesting βc participation in the signaling route. In summary, despite differences in individual cytokines and cell populations, fish and mammalian IL-3/IL-5/GM-CSF family members share growth factor functions for non-neutrophil granulocytes.
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