Description: Leukemia inhibitory factor (LIF) is a 20 kDa protein that belongs to the IL-6 receptor family. It binds to a heterodimeric membrane receptor made up of a LIF-specific subunit, gp190 or LIFR, and the subunit gp130, which is shared with the other members of the IL-6 family. LIF expression has been observed in various tissues including thymus, lung, and neuronal tissue. LIF displays diverse biological effects, but is best known for its ability to inhibit the differentiation of embryonic stem cells in mice, and contribute to stem cell self-renewal. LIF can be up-regulated by pro-inflammatory cytokines such as TNF alpha and IL-17, and elevated levels of LIF have been found in cases of rheumatoid arthritis, neural injury, systemic inflammation, and tuberculosis. Human and mouse LIF share 79% sequence homology and exhibit cross-species activity. However, LIF inhibition of stem cell differentiation appears to be mouse-specific.