Polymorphisms in the interleukin-4 receptor α chain (IL-4Rα) have been linked to asthma incidence and severity, but a causal relationship has remained uncertain. In particular, a glutamine to arginine substitution at position 576 (Q576R) of IL-4Rα has been associated with severe asthma, especially in African Americans. We show that mice carrying the Q576R polymorphism exhibited intense allergen-induced airway inflammation and remodeling. The Q576R polymorphism did not affect proximal signal transducer and activator of transcription (STAT) 6 activation, but synergized with STAT6 in a gene target- and tissue-specific manner to mediate heightened expression of a subset of IL-4- and IL-13-responsive genes involved in allergic inflammation. Our findings indicate that the Q576R polymorphism directly promotes asthma in carrier populations by selectively augmenting IL-4Rα-dependent signaling.
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