PROSITE documentation PDOC00227
Interleukin-6 / G-CSF / MGF family signature


The following cytokines can be grouped into a single family on the basis of sequence similarities.

  • Interleukin-6 (IL-6) [1] (also known as B-cell stimulatory factor 2 (BSF-2) or interferon β-2) is a cytokine that has a wide variety of biological functions. It plays an essential role in the final differentiation of B- cells into IG-secreting cells, as well as inducing myeloma/plasmacytoma growth, nerve cell differentiation and, in hepatocytes, acute phase reactants.
  • Granulocyte colony-stimulating factor (G-CSF) [2] belongs to the cytokine family whose members regulate hematopoietic cell proliferation and differentiation. G-CSF exclusively stimulates the colony formation of granulocytes.
  • Myelomonocytic growth factor (MGF) [3] is an avian hematopoeitic growth factor that stimulates the proliferation and colony formation of normal and transformed avian cells of the myeloid lineage.

These cytokines are glycoproteins of about 170 to 180 amino acid residues that contains four conserved cysteine residues involved in two disulfide bonds [4], as shown in the following schematic representation.

                       +--+     +---+
                       |  |     |   |
'C': conserved cysteine involved in a disulfide bond.
'*': position of the pattern.

The pattern developed for this family of proteins includes the last two cysteines as well as other conserved residues.


It has been said [5] that this family can be extended by the adjunction of LIF and OSM (see the relevant entry <PDOC00509>) but, while all these cytokines seem to be structurally related, the sequence similarity is not high enough to allow the use of only one single consensus pattern.

Expert(s) to contact by email:

Rose-John S.

Last update:

May 2004 / Text revised.


Technical section

PROSITE method (with tools and information) covered by this documentation:

INTERLEUKIN_6, PS00254; Interleukin-6 / G-CSF / MGF signature  (PATTERN)


1AuthorsKishimoto T. Hirano T.
TitleA new interleukin with pleiotropic activities.
SourceBioEssays 9:11-15(1988).
PubMed ID3063260

2AuthorsMetcalf D.
TitleThe granulocyte-macrophage colony-stimulating factors.
SourceScience 229:16-22(1985).
PubMed ID2990035

3AuthorsLeutz A. Damm K. Sterneck E. Kowenz E. Ness S. Frank R. Gausepohl H. Pan Y.-C.E. Smart J. Hayman M. Graf T.
TitleMolecular cloning of the chicken myelomonocytic growth factor (cMGF) reveals relationship to interleukin 6 and granulocyte colony stimulating factor.
SourceEMBO J. 8:175-181(1989).
PubMed ID2785450

4AuthorsClogston C.L. Boone T.C. Crandall B.C. Mendiaz E.A. Lu H.S.
TitleDisulfide structures of human interleukin-6 are similar to those of human granulocyte colony stimulating factor.
SourceArch. Biochem. Biophys. 272:144-151(1989).
PubMed ID2472117

5AuthorsRose T.M. Bruce A.G.
TitleOncostatin M is a member of a cytokine family that includes leukemia-inhibitory factor, granulocyte colony-stimulating factor, and interleukin 6.
SourceProc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 88:8641-8645(1991).
PubMed ID1717982

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