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J Biotechnol. 1994 Apr 30;34(1):79-86.

High-level expression of a biologically active human interleukin-6 mutein.

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  • 1ImClone Systems Inc., New York, NY 10014.


We have constructed two different muteins of interleukin-6 (IL-6) which were expressed in Escherichia coli. Both muteins lack the first 22 N-terminal amino acids of native IL-6 and lack one or the other of the two naturally occurring pairs of cysteines at either position 45 and 51 or position 74 and 84 of IL-6. We found that there was a dramatic increase in the level of IL-6 produced from each mutein clone, compared to the level produced by the wild-type IL-6 clone. We also observed that the yield of soluble and properly refolded mutein IL-6 was highest when the cysteines at position 74 and 84 were left intact. The mutein IL-6 with cysteines at position 74 and 84 was as active as wild-type IL-6 and a lower concentration of the mutein IL-6 was required to reach maximal activity, compared to wild-type IL-6. The mutein IL-6 with cysteines at position 45 and 51 had a much reduced biological activity.

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