The Amino-Terminal Region of Tyk2 Sustains the Level of Interferon α Receptor 1, a Component of the Interferon α /β Receptor
Tyk2 belongs to the Janus kinase (JAK) family of receptor associated tyrosine kinases, characterized by a large N-terminal region, a kinase-like domain and a tyrosine kinase domain. It was previously shown that Tyk2 contributes to interferon-α (IFN-α) signaling not only catalytically, but also as an essential intracellular component of the receptor complex, being required for high affinity binding of IFN-α. For this function the tyrosine kinase domain was found to be dispensable. Here, it is shown that mutant cells lacking Tyk2 have significantly reduced IFN-α receptor 1 (IFNAR1) protein level, whereas the mRNA level is unaltered. Expression of the N-terminal region of Tyk2 in these cells reconstituted wild-type IFNAR1 level, but did not restore the binding activity of the receptor. Studies of mutant Tyk2 forms deleted at the N terminus indicated that the integrity of the N-terminal region is required to sustain IFNAR1. These studies also showed that the N-terminal region does not directly modulate the basal autophosphorylation activity of Tyk2, but it is required for efficient in vitro IFNAR1 phosphorylation and for rendering the enzyme activatable by IFN-α. Overall, these results indicate that distinct Tyk2 domains provide different functions to the receptor complex: the N-terminal region sustains IFNAR1 level, whereas the kinase-like domain provides a function toward high affinity ligand binding.