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Immunol Cell Biol. 1999 Feb;77(1):28-33.

Physiological effects and adjuvanticity of recombinant brushtail possum TNF-alpha.

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  • 1AgResearch, Wallaceville Animal Research Centre, Upper Hutt, New Zealand.


The present paper describes the physiological properties of recombinant possum TNF-alpha and an adjuvant effect on antibody responses to the model protein antigen, keyhole limpet haemocyanin (KLH). For these studies recombinant possum TNF-alpha was produced in the yeast Pichia pastoris. The recombinant cytokine was secreted into the culture medium and purified by gel filtration. Possum TNF-alpha produced in this expression system was N-glycosylated and bioactive in two different assays. In a murine fibroblast L929 cytotoxicity assay, the possum TNF-alpha had lower specific activity compared to human TNF-alpha, while in a possum-specific assay, possum TNF-alpha enhanced the proliferation of PHA-stimulated possum thymocytes and was more active than human TNF-alpha. The physiological effect of the recombinant possum TNF-alpha was investigated in groups of possums administered doses of 6, 30 or 150 micrograms of cytokine. For each dose, TNF-alpha caused profound effects on the numbers of circulating leucocytes characterized by a three-to-four-fold increase in neutrophil numbers at 6-24 h after injection and an initial sharp decrease in lymphocyte numbers. The efficacy of TNF-alpha as an immunological adjuvant was determined in possums administered KLH (125 micrograms) in an aqueous or Al(OH)3-based formulation with or without added recombinant TNF-alpha (150 micrograms). Serum antibody responses to KLH were monitored by ELISA. The TNF-alpha stimulated two-fold and four-fold increases in antibody levels in aqueous and Al(OH)3-based vaccine formulations, respectively. The strongest antibody responses were observed in the group of possums that received KLH formulated in Al(OH)3 with addition of TNF-alpha.

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