The protein encoded by this gene is a secreted cytokine that is important for the proliferation of T and B lymphocytes. The receptor of this cytokine is a heterotrimeric protein complex whose gamma chain is also shared by interleukin 4 (IL4) and interleukin 7 (IL7). The expression of this gene in mature thymocytes is monoallelic, which represents an unusual regulatory mode for controlling the precise expression of a single gene. The targeted disruption of a similar gene in mice leads to ulcerative colitis-like disease, which suggests an essential role of this gene in the immune response to antigenic stimuli.
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