Interleukin 2 (IL-2) is an alpha-helical cytokine of 153 amino acids (molecular weight 17.6kDa) whose primary role is regulation of activities of lymphocytes that are responsible for immunity. During infection, the binding of antigens to T cell receptors trigger secretion of IL-2 and expression of IL-2 receptors (IL-2R), promoting the growth, proliferation, and differentiation of T cells to become effector T cells. IL2/IL2R interaction stimulates growth and differentiation of antigen-specific CD4+ and CD8+ T cells, resulting in immunologic memory of the antigens. IL-2 is also responsible for discrimination between foreign ("non-self") and "self", and as such is a target of immunosuppressive regimens which inhibit the production of IL-2 by antigen-activated T cells and block IL-2R signaling, preventing the clonal expansion and function of antigen-selected T cells.

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