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Nucleic Acids Res. Jul 15, 1998; 26(14): 3358–3363.
PMCID: PMC147714

Eosinophil cationic protein/RNase 3 is another RNase A-family ribonuclease with direct antiviral activity.


Eosinophil cationic protein (ECP) is one of two RNase A-superfamily ribonucleases found in secretory granules of human eosinophilic leukocytes. Although the physiologic function of eosinophils [and thus of the two eosinophil ribonucleases, ECP and eosinophil-derived neurotoxin (EDN)] remains controversial, we have recently shown that isolated human eosinophils promote ribonuclease-dependent toxicity toward extracellular virions of the single-stranded RNA virus, respiratory syncytial virus, group B (RSV-B). We have also shown that recombinant human EDN (rhEDN) can act alone as a ribonuclease-dependent antiviral agent. In this work, we provide a biochemical characterization of recombinant human ECP (rhECP) prepared in baculovirus, and demonstrate that rhECP also promotes ribonuclease-dependent antiviral activity. The rhECP described here is N-glycosylated, as is native ECP, and has approximately 100-fold more ribonuclease activity than non-glycosylated rhECP prepared in bacteria. The enzymatic activity of rhECP was sensitive to inhibition by placental ribonuclease inhibitor (RI). Although rhECP was not as effective as rhEDN at reducing viral infectivity (500 nM rhECP reduced infectivity of RSV-B approximately 6 fold; 500 nM rhEDN, >50 fold), the antiviral activity appears to be unique to the eosinophil ribonucleases; no reduction in infectivity was promoted by bovine RNase A, by the amphibian ribonuclease, onconase, nor by the closely-related human ribonuclease, RNase k6. Interestingly, combinations of rhEDN and rhECP did not result in either a synergistic or even an additive antiviral effect. Taken together, these results suggest that that the interaction between the eosinophil ribonucleases and the extracellular virions of RSV-B may be specific and saturable.

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