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J Pharmacol Exp Ther. 2008 Jul;326(1):338-47. doi: 10.1124/jpet.108.138263. Epub 2008 Apr 29.

The function of the human interferon-beta 1a glycan determined in vivo.

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Medical Biotechnology Center, University of Southern Denmark, Winsløwparken 25, 2, DK-5000 Odense C, Denmark.


Recombinant human interferon-beta (rhIFN-beta) is the leading therapeutic intervention shown to change the cause of relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis, and both a nonglycosylated and a significantly more active glycosylated variant of rhIFN-beta are used in treatment. This study investigates the function of the rhIFN-beta1a glycan moiety and its individual carbohydrate residues, using the myxovirus resistance (Mx) mRNA as a biomarker in Mx-congenic mice. We showed that the Mx mRNA level in blood leukocytes peaked 3 h after s.c. administration of rhIFN-beta1a. In addition, a clear dose-response relationship was confirmed, and the Mx response was shown to be receptor-mediated. Using specific glycosidases, different glycosylation analogs of rhIFN-beta1a were obtained, and their activities were determined. The glycosylated rhIFN-beta1a showed significantly higher activity than its deglycosylated counterpart, due to a protein stabilization/solubilization effect of the glycan. It is interesting to note that the terminating sialic acids were essential for these effects. Conclusively, the structure/bioactivity relationship of rhIFN-beta1a was determined in vivo, and it provided a novel insight into the role of the rhIFN-beta1a glycan and its carbohydrate residues. The possibilities of improving the pharmacological properties of rhIFN-beta1a using glycoengineering are discussed.

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