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Interleukin-2 (IL-2) is a growth and differentiation factor critical for clonal T cell expansion and function. Produced exclusively in T cells, IL-2 transcription and synthesis occurs only after appropriate cellular activation via the clonotypic antigen-receptor and co-stimulatory molecules. IL-2 gene expression is initiated by the cooperative binding of different transcription factors and is predominantly controlled at the transcriptional level. Recently, it has been demonstrated that IL-2 transcriptional activity is normally confined to a single, randomly chosen allele. This monoallelic expression of a non-receptor gene product encoded at a non-imprinted, autosomal locus represents an unusual regulatory mode. Although the molecular mechanisms operational for IL-2 transcription have yet to be defined, allele-specific expression of the IL-2 locus constitutes an important expansion to the concept of stochastic gene expression.

Original publication




Journal article


Semin Immunol

Publication Date





357 - 367


Alleles, Animals, Gene Expression Regulation, Interleukin-2, Mice, Stochastic Processes, Transcription, Genetic