Please note: this site relies heavily on the use of javascript. Without a javascript-enabled browser, this site will not function correctly. Please enable javascript and reload the page, or switch to a different browser.
28  structures 129  species 0  interactions 195  sequences 3  architectures

Family: IL4 (PF00727)

Summary: Interleukin 4

Pfam includes annotations and additional family information from a range of different sources. These sources can be accessed via the tabs below.

This is the Wikipedia entry entitled "Interleukin 4". More...

Interleukin 4 Edit Wikipedia article

IL4 Crystal Structure recombinant.png
Available structures
PDBOrtholog search: PDBe RCSB
AliasesIL4, BCGF-1, BCGF1, BSF-1, BSF1, IL-4, interleukin 4
External IDsOMIM: 147780 MGI: 96556 HomoloGene: 491 GeneCards: IL4
Gene location (Human)
Chromosome 5 (human)
Chr.Chromosome 5 (human)[1]
Chromosome 5 (human)
Genomic location for IL4
Genomic location for IL4
Band5q31.1Start132,673,986 bp[1]
End132,682,678 bp[1]
RNA expression pattern
PBB GE IL4 207538 at fs.png

PBB GE IL4 207539 s at fs.png
More reference expression data
RefSeq (mRNA)



RefSeq (protein)



Location (UCSC)Chr 5: 132.67 – 132.68 MbChr 11: 53.6 – 53.62 Mb
PubMed search[3][4]
View/Edit HumanView/Edit Mouse
Interleukin 4
PDB 1itm EBI.jpg
analysis of the solution structure of human interleukin 4 determined by heteronuclear three-dimensional nuclear magnetic resonance techniques
Pfam clanCL0053

The interleukin 4 (IL4, IL-4) is a cytokine that induces differentiation of naive helper T cells (Th0 cells) to Th2 cells. Upon activation by IL-4, Th2 cells subsequently produce additional IL-4 in a positive feedback loop. The cell that initially produces IL-4, thus inducing Th2 differentiation, has not been identified, but recent studies suggest that basophils may be the effector cell.[5] It is closely related and has functions similar to interleukin 13.


Interleukin 4 has many biological roles, including the stimulation of activated B-cell and T-cell proliferation, and the differentiation of B cells into plasma cells. It is a key regulator in humoral and adaptive immunity. IL-4 induces B-cell class switching to IgE, and up-regulates MHC class II production. IL-4 decreases the production of Th1 cells, macrophages, IFN-gamma, and dendritic cell IL-12.

Overproduction of IL-4 is associated with allergies.[6]

Inflammation and wound repair

Tissue macrophages play an important role in chronic inflammation and wound repair. The presence of IL-4 in extravascular tissues promotes alternative activation of macrophages into M2 cells and inhibits classical activation of macrophages into M1 cells. An increase in repair macrophages (M2) is coupled with secretion of IL-10 and TGF-β that result in a diminution of pathological inflammation. Release of arginase, proline, polyaminases and TGF-β by the activated M2 cell is tied with wound repair and fibrosis.[7]


The receptor for interleukin-4 is known as the IL-4Rα. This receptor exists in 3 different complexes throughout the body. Type 1 receptors are composed of the IL-4Rα subunit with a common γ chain and specifically bind IL-4. Type 2 receptors consist of an IL-4Rα subunit bound to a different subunit known as IL-13Rα1. These type 2 receptors have the ability to bind both IL-4 and IL-13, two cytokines with closely related biological functions.[8][9]


IL-4 has a compact, globular fold (similar to other cytokines), stabilised by 3 disulphide bonds.[10] One half of the structure is dominated by a 4 alpha-helix bundle with a left-handed twist.[11] The helices are anti-parallel, with 2 overhand connections, which fall into a 2-stranded anti-parallel beta-sheet.[11]


This cytokine was co-discovered by Maureen Howard and William E. Paul[12] as well as by Ellen Vitetta and her research group in 1982.

The nucleotide sequence for human IL-4 was isolated four years later confirming its similarity to a mouse protein called B-cell stimulatory factor-1 (BCSF-1).[13]

Animal studies

IL-4 has been found to mediate a crosstalk between the neural stem cells and neurons that undergo neurodegeneration, and initiate a regeneration cascade through phosphorylation of its intracellular effector STAT6 in an experimental Alzheimer's disease model in adult zebrafish brain.[14]

Clinical significance

IL-4 has also been shown to drive mitogenesis, dedifferentiation, and metastasis in rhabdomyosarcoma.[15] IL-4, along with other Th2 cytokines, is involved in the airway inflammation observed in the lungs of patients with allergic asthma.[16]

Illnesses associated with IL-4

IL-4 plays an important role in the development of certain immune disorders, particularly allergies and some autoimmune diseases.

Allergic diseases

Allergic diseases are sets of disorders that are manifested by a disproportionate response of the immune system to the allergen and Th2 responses. These pathologies include, for example, atopic dermatitis, asthma, or systemic anaphylaxis. Interleukin 4 mediates important pro-inflammatory functions in asthma, including induction of isotype rearrangement of IgE, expression of VCAM-1 molecules (vascular cell adhesion molecule 1), promoting eosinophilic transmigration through endothelium, mucus secretion and T helper type 2 (Th2) leading to cytokine release. Asthma is a complex genetic disorder that has been associated with IL-4 gene promoter polymorphism and proteins involved in IL-4 signaling.[17]


IL-4 has a significant effect on tumor progression. Increased IL-4 production was found in breast, prostate, lung, renal cells and other types of cancer. Many overexpression of IL-4R has been found in many types of cancer. Renal cells and glioblastoma modify 10,000-13,000 receptors per cell depending on tumor type.[18]

IL-4 can primitively motivate tumor cells and increase their apoptosis resistance by increasing tumor growth.[19]

Nervous system

Brain tissue tumors such as astrocytoma, glioblastoma, meningioma, and medulloblastoma overexpress receptors for various growth factors including epidermal growth factor receptor, FGFR-1 (fibroblast growth factor receptor 1), TfR angiotensin transferrin receptor), IL-13R. Most human meningiomas massively expresses IL-4 receptors, indicating its role in cancer progression. They express IL-4Rα and IL13Rα-1-1, but not the surface γc chain, suggesting that most human meningiomas express IL-4 type II.[20]


IL-4 may also play a role in the infection and development of HIV disease. Auxiliary T-lymphocytes are a key element of HIV-1 infection. Several signs of immune dysregulation such as polyclonal B-cell initialization, previous cell-mediated antigen-induced response and hypergammaglobulinaemia occur in most HIV-1 infected patients and are associated with cytokines synthesized by Th2 cells. Increased IL-4 production by Th2 cells has been demonstrated in people infected with HIV.[21]

See also


  1. ^ a b c GRCh38: Ensembl release 89: ENSG00000113520 - Ensembl, May 2017
  2. ^ a b c GRCm38: Ensembl release 89: ENSMUSG00000000869 - Ensembl, May 2017
  3. ^ "Human PubMed Reference:". National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine.
  4. ^ "Mouse PubMed Reference:". National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine.
  5. ^ Sokol, C.L., Barton, G.M., Farr, A.G. & Medzhitov, R. (2008). "A mechanism for the initiation of allergen-induced T helper type 2 responses". Nat Immunol. 9 (3): 310–318. doi:10.1038/ni1558. PMC 3888112. PMID 18300366.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  6. ^ Hershey GK, Friedrich MF, Esswein LA, Thomas ML, Chatila TA (December 1997). "The association of atopy with a gain-of-function mutation in the alpha subunit of the interleukin-4 receptor". N. Engl. J. Med. 337 (24): 1720–5. doi:10.1056/NEJM199712113372403. PMID 9392697. Lay summary –
  7. ^ Jon Aster, Vinay Kumar, Abul K. Abbas; Nelson Fausto (2009). Robbins & Cotran Pathologic Basis of Disease (8th ed.). Philadelphia: Saunders. p. 54. ISBN 978-1-4160-3121-5.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  8. ^ Maes T, Joos GF, Brusselle GG (September 2012). "Targeting interleukin-4 in asthma: lost in translation?". Am. J. Respir. Cell Mol. Biol. 47 (3): 261–70. doi:10.1165/rcmb.2012-0080TR. PMID 22538865.
  9. ^ Chatila TA (October 2004). "Interleukin-4 receptor signaling pathways in asthma pathogenesis". Trends Mol Med. 10 (10): 493–9. doi:10.1016/j.molmed.2004.08.004. PMID 15464449.
  10. ^ Carr C, Aykent S, Kimack NM, Levine AD (February 1991). "Disulfide assignments in recombinant mouse and human interleukin 4". Biochemistry. 30 (6): 1515–23. doi:10.1021/bi00220a011. PMID 1993171.
  11. ^ a b Walter MR, Cook WJ, Zhao BG, Cameron RP, Ealick SE, Walter RL, Reichert P, Nagabhushan TL, Trotta PP, Bugg CE (October 1992). "Crystal structure of recombinant human interleukin-4". J. Biol. Chem. 267 (28): 20371–6. doi:10.2210/pdb2int/pdb. PMID 1400355.
  12. ^ Howard M, Paul WE (1982). "Interleukins for B lymphocytes". Lymphokine Res. 1 (1): 1–4. PMID 6985399.
  13. ^ Yokota T, et al. (1986). "Isolation and characterization of a human interleukin cDNA clone, homologous to mouse B-cell stimulatory factor 1, that expresses B-cell- and T-cell-stimulating activities". Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 83 (16): 5894–8. doi:10.1073/pnas.83.16.5894. PMC 386403. PMID 3016727.
  14. ^ Bhattarai P, Thomas AK, Cosacak MI, Papadimitriou C, Mashkaryan V, Froc C, Reinhardt S, Kurth T, Dahl A, Zhang Y, Kizil C (2016). "IL4/STAT6 Signaling Activates Neural Stem Cell Proliferation and Neurogenesis upon Amyloid-β42 Aggregation in Adult Zebrafish Brain". Cell Reports. 17 (4): 941–8. doi:10.1016/j.celrep.2016.09.075. PMID 27760324.
  15. ^ Hosoyama T, Aslam MI, Abraham J, Prajapati SI, Nishijo K, Michalek JE, Zarzabal LA, Nelon LD, Guttridge DC, Rubin BP, Keller C (May 2011). "IL-4R Drives Dedifferentiation, Mitogenesis, and Metastasis in Rhabdomyosarcoma". Clin Cancer Res. 17 (9): 2757–2766. doi:10.1158/1078-0432.CCR-10-3445. PMC 3087179. PMID 21536546.
  16. ^ Gour N, Wills-Karp M (2015). "IL-4 and IL-13 signaling in allergic airway disease". Cytokine. 75 (1): 68–78. doi:10.1016/j.cyto.2015.05.014. PMC 4532591. PMID 26070934.
  17. ^ Steinke, John W.; Borish, Larry (19 February 2001). "Th2 cytokines and asthma — Interleukin-4: its role in the pathogenesis of asthma, and targeting it for asthma treatment with interleukin-4 receptor antagonists". Respiratory Research. 2 (2): 66–70. doi:10.1186/rr40. PMC 59570. PMID 11686867.
  18. ^ Ul-Haq, Zaheer; Naz, Sehrish; Mesaik, M. Ahmed (2016). "Interleukin-4 receptor signaling and its binding mechanism: A therapeutic insight from inhibitors tool box". Cytokine & Growth Factor Reviews. 32: 3–15. doi:10.1016/j.cytogfr.2016.04.002. PMID 27165851.
  19. ^ Li, Z.; Jiang, J.; Wang, Z.; Zhang, J.; Xiao, M.; Wang, C.; Lu, Y.; Qin, Z. (1 November 2008). "Endogenous Interleukin-4 Promotes Tumor Development by Increasing Tumor Cell Resistance to Apoptosis". Cancer Research. 68 (21): 8687–8694. doi:10.1158/0008-5472.CAN-08-0449. PMID 18974110.
  20. ^ Puri, Sachin; Joshi, Bharat H.; Sarkar, Chitra; Mahapatra, Ashok Kumar; Hussain, Ejaz; Sinha, Subrata (15 May 2005). "Expression and structure of interleukin 4 receptors in primary meningeal tumors". Cancer. 103 (10): 2132–2142. doi:10.1002/cncr.21008. PMID 15830341.
  21. ^ Meyaard, L; Hovenkamp, E; Keet, IP; Hooibrink, B; de Jong, IH; Otto, SA; Miedema, F (15 September 1996). "Single cell analysis of IL-4 and IFN-gamma production by T cells from HIV-infected individuals: decreased IFN-gamma in the presence of preserved IL-4 production". Journal of Immunology. 157 (6): 2712–8. PMID 8805678.

Further reading

External links

This page is based on a Wikipedia article. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

This tab holds the annotation information that is stored in the Pfam database. As we move to using Wikipedia as our main source of annotation, the contents of this tab will be gradually replaced by the Wikipedia tab.

Interleukin 4 Provide feedback

No Pfam abstract.

External database links

This tab holds annotation information from the InterPro database.

InterPro entry IPR002354

Cytokines are protein messengers that carry information from cell to cell [ PUBMED:8151703 ]. Interleukin is one such molecule, and participates in several B-cell activation processes: e.g., it enhances production and secretion of IgG1 and IgE [ PUBMED:3083412 ]; it induces expression of class II major histocompatability complex (MHC) molecules on resting B-cells; and it regulates expression of the low affinity Fc receptor for IgE on lymphocytes and monocytes. Interleukin-4 (IL4), which this entry represents, has a compact, globular fold (similar to other cytokines), stabilised by 3 disulphide bonds [ PUBMED:1993171 ]. One half of the structure is dominated by a 4 alpha-helix bundle with a left-handed twist [ PUBMED:1400355 ]. The helices are anti-parallel, with 2 overhand connections, which fall into a 2-stranded anti-parallel beta-sheet [ PUBMED:1400355 ].

Gene Ontology

The mapping between Pfam and Gene Ontology is provided by InterPro. If you use this data please cite InterPro.

Domain organisation

Below is a listing of the unique domain organisations or architectures in which this domain is found. More...

Loading domain graphics...

Pfam Clan

This family is a member of clan 4H_Cytokine (CL0053), which has the following description:

Cytokines are regulatory peptides that can be produced by various cells for communicating and orchestrating the large multicellular system. Cytokines are key mediators of hematopoiesis, immunity, allergy, inflammation, tissue remodeling, angiogenesis, and embryonic development [2]. This superfamily includes both the long and short chain helical cytokines.

The clan contains the following 29 members:

CNTF CSF-1 EPO_TPO Flt3_lig GCSF GM_CSF Hormone_1 IFN-gamma IL10 IL11 IL12 IL13 IL15 IL2 IL22 IL23 IL28A IL3 IL34 IL4 IL5 IL6 IL7 Interferon Leptin LIF_OSM PRF SCF TSLP


We store a range of different sequence alignments for families. As well as the seed alignment from which the family is built, we provide the full alignment, generated by searching the sequence database (reference proteomes) using the family HMM. We also generate alignments using four representative proteomes (RP) sets and the UniProtKB sequence database. More...

View options

We make a range of alignments for each Pfam-A family. You can see a description of each above. You can view these alignments in various ways but please note that some types of alignment are never generated while others may not be available for all families, most commonly because the alignments are too large to handle.

Representative proteomes UniProt
Jalview View  View  View  View  View  View  View 
HTML View  View           
PP/heatmap 1 View           

1Cannot generate PP/Heatmap alignments for seeds; no PP data available

Key: ✓ available, x not generated, not available.

Format an alignment

Representative proteomes UniProt

Download options

We make all of our alignments available in Stockholm format. You can download them here as raw, plain text files or as gzip-compressed files.

Representative proteomes UniProt
Raw Stockholm Download   Download   Download   Download   Download   Download   Download  
Gzipped Download   Download   Download   Download   Download   Download   Download  

You can also download a FASTA format file containing the full-length sequences for all sequences in the full alignment.

HMM logo

HMM logos is one way of visualising profile HMMs. Logos provide a quick overview of the properties of an HMM in a graphical form. You can see a more detailed description of HMM logos and find out how you can interpret them here. More...


This page displays the phylogenetic tree for this family's seed alignment. We use FastTree to calculate neighbour join trees with a local bootstrap based on 100 resamples (shown next to the tree nodes). FastTree calculates approximately-maximum-likelihood phylogenetic trees from our seed alignment.

Note: You can also download the data file for the tree.

Curation and family details

This section shows the detailed information about the Pfam family. You can see the definitions of many of the terms in this section in the glossary and a fuller explanation of the scoring system that we use in the scores section of the help pages.

Curation View help on the curation process

Seed source: Pfam-B_833 (release 2.1)
Previous IDs: none
Type: Domain
Sequence Ontology: SO:0000417
Author: Bateman A
Number in seed: 12
Number in full: 195
Average length of the domain: 99.70 aa
Average identity of full alignment: 39 %
Average coverage of the sequence by the domain: 71.22 %

HMM information View help on HMM parameters

HMM build commands:
build method: hmmbuild --amino -o /dev/null HMM SEED
search method: hmmsearch -Z 61295632 -E 1000 --cpu 4 HMM pfamseq
Model details:
Parameter Sequence Domain
Gathering cut-off 23.0 23.0
Trusted cut-off 23.2 23.2
Noise cut-off 21.6 22.9
Model length: 116
Family (HMM) version: 21
Download: download the raw HMM for this family

Species distribution

Sunburst controls


Weight segments by...

Change the size of the sunburst


Colour assignments

Archea Archea Eukaryota Eukaryota
Bacteria Bacteria Other sequences Other sequences
Viruses Viruses Unclassified Unclassified
Viroids Viroids Unclassified sequence Unclassified sequence


Align selected sequences to HMM

Generate a FASTA-format file

Clear selection

This visualisation provides a simple graphical representation of the distribution of this family across species. You can find the original interactive tree in the adjacent tab. More...

Loading sunburst data...

Tree controls


The tree shows the occurrence of this domain across different species. More...


Please note: for large trees this can take some time. While the tree is loading, you can safely switch away from this tab but if you browse away from the family page entirely, the tree will not be loaded.


For those sequences which have a structure in the Protein DataBank, we use the mapping between UniProt, PDB and Pfam coordinate systems from the PDBe group, to allow us to map Pfam domains onto UniProt sequences and three-dimensional protein structures. The table below shows the structures on which the IL4 domain has been found. There are 28 instances of this domain found in the PDB. Note that there may be multiple copies of the domain in a single PDB structure, since many structures contain multiple copies of the same protein sequence.

Loading structure mapping...

AlphaFold Structure Predictions

The list of proteins below match this family and have AlphaFold predicted structures. Click on the protein accession to view the predicted structure.

Protein Predicted structure External Information
D1YSM1 View 3D Structure Click here
P05112 View 3D Structure Click here
P07750 View 3D Structure Click here
P20096 View 3D Structure Click here