Cell type-specific responses to the leukemia inhibitory factor (LIF)/interleukin 6 cytokine family are mediated by dimerization of the LIF receptor alpha-chain (LIFRalpha) with the signal transducer gp130 or of two gp130 molecules followed by activation of the JAK/STAT and Ras/mitogen-activated protein kinase cascades. In order to dissect the contribution of gp130 and LIFRalpha individually, chimeric molecules consisting of the extracellular domain of the granulocyte colony stimulating factor receptor (GCSF-R) and various mutant forms of the cytoplasmic domains of gp130 or LIFRalpha were expressed in embryonic stem (ES) cells to test for suppression of differentiation, or in a factor-dependent plasma cytoma cell line to assess for induction of proliferation. Carboxyl-terminal domains downstream of the phosphatase (SHP2)-binding sites were dispensable for mitogen-activated protein kinase activation and the transduction of proliferative signals. Moreover, carboxyl-terminal truncation mutants which lacked intact Box 3 homology domains showed decreased STAT3 activation, failed to induce Hck kinase activity and suppress ES cell differentiation. Moreover, STAT3 antisense oligonucleotides impaired LIF-dependent inhibition of differentiation. Substitution of the tyrosine residue within the Box 3 region of the GSCF-R abolished receptor-mediated suppression of differentiation without affecting the transduction of proliferative signals. Thus, distinct cytoplasmic domains within the LIFRalpha, gp130, and GCSF-R transduce proliferative and differentiation suppressing signals.