We investigated the effects of IFN-gamma and IL-2 on IL-2R alpha and beta mRNA expression in human monocytes. Low basal expression of IL-2R beta mRNA was detected in fresh monocytes. Stimulation of monocytes with IL-2 induced a significant increase of IL-2R beta mRNA, but did not induce IL-2R alpha mRNA. In contrast, stimulation of monocytes with IFN-gamma-induced IL-2R alpha mRNA, but did not modify IL-2R beta mRNA. Five U/ml of IFN-gamma induced IL-2R alpha mRNA and 2.2 nM of IL-2 induced IL-2R beta mRNA, both within 3 h. Nuclear run-on experiments demonstrated that the induction of IL-2R alpha mRNA by IFN-gamma is controlled, at least in part, at the transcriptional level. In contrast, the enhancement of IL-2R beta mRNA by IL-2 is controlled at a posttranscriptional level and is associated with an increase in the half-life of IL-2R beta mRNA. The results of studies on the cytotoxic activity and on the expression of c-fms mRNA of monocytes activated by the combination of IFN-gamma and IL-2 show that pretreatment with IFN-gamma renders monocytes more sensitive to activation by IL-2. These results demonstrate that the IL-2R alpha and IL-2R beta subunits are induced by different lymphokines through distinct mechanisms and that both receptor subunits can influence the response of monocytes to IL-2.

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