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J Biol Chem. 2000 Dec 1;275(48):37474-80.

Truncated thioredoxin is a mitogenic cytokine for resting human peripheral blood mononuclear cells and is present in human plasma.

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Medical Nobel Institute for Biochemistry, Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics, Karolinska Institutet, S-171 77 Stockholm, Sweden.


Human thioredoxin (Trx) catalyzes intracellular disulfide reductions but has also co-cytokine activity with interleukins after leaderless secretion. A recombinant truncated form of thioredoxin with the 80 N-terminal residues (Trx80) was purified to homogeneity. We discovered that Trx80 by itself is a potent mitogenic cytokine stimulating growth of resting human peripheral blood mononuclear cells. No effect was seen by Trx, but Trx80 at 50-100 nm induced cell proliferation of human peripheral blood mononuclear cells in serum-free synthetic medium, measured as [(3)H]thymidine incorporation after 72 h, with a maximum effect being comparable with that of 5 units/ml of interleukin-2. Trx80 lacked redox activity, but CD spectra suggested a secondary structure similar to Trx. Reduced Trx80 had an M(r) of 25,000, indicating that it is a dimer in solution. We also developed two different sandwich enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays that distinguish between full-length Trx and Trx80 and determined plasma levels of Trx and Trx80 in blood donors. The levels of Trx80 varied from 2 to 175 ng/ml; in comparison levels of Trx varied from 16 to 55 ng/ml without correlation to Trx80. In conclusion, the naturally occurring Trx80 is a novel mitogenic cytokine for normal resting human blood mononuclear cells.

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