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J Biol Chem. 2001 Oct 26;276(43):39765-71. Epub 2001 Aug 20.

Interferon-kappa, a novel type I interferon expressed in human keratinocytes.

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  • 1Human Genome Sciences, 9410 Key West Ave., Rockville, MD 20850, USA.


High throughput cDNA sequencing has led to the identification of interferon-kappa, a novel subclass of type I interferon that displays approximately 30% homology to other family members. Interferon-kappa consists of 207 amino acids, including a 27-amino acid signal peptide and a series of cysteines conserved in type I interferons. The gene encoding interferon-kappa is located on the short arm of chromosome 9 adjacent to the type I interferon gene cluster and is selectively expressed in epidermal keratinocytes. Expression of interferon-kappa is significantly enhanced in keratinocytes upon viral infection, upon exposure to double-stranded RNA, or upon treatment with either interferon-gamma or interferon-beta. Administration of interferon-kappa recombinant protein imparts cellular protection against viral infection in a species-specific manner. Interferon-kappa activates the interferon-stimulated response element signaling pathway and a panel of genes similar to those regulated by other type I interferons including anti-viral mediators and transcriptional regulators. An antibody that neutralizes the type I interferon receptor completely blocks interferon-kappa signaling, demonstrating that interferon-kappa utilizes the same receptor as other type I interferons. Interferon-kappa therefore defines a novel subclass of type I interferon that is expressed in keratinocytes and expands the repertoire of known proteins mediating host defense.

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