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J Biol Chem. 1987 Aug 15;262(23):11315-23.

Interferon induces a 15-kilodalton protein exhibiting marked homology to ubiquitin.


Immunochemical methods were used to examine the effect of viral infection on the dynamics of intracellular ubiquitin pools. Infection of either the human lung carcinoma line A-549 or the mouse fibroblast line L929 with encephalomyocarditis virus had little effect on either the distribution or fractional level of intracellular ubiquitin conjugates. In contrast, viral infection resulted in a significant decline in the steady state content of the mono-ubiquitin conjugate to histone 2A (uH2A). Prior treatment with interferons protected against this decrease of uH2A. Furthermore, interferons induced the de novo synthesis of a 15-kDa protein immunologically related to ubiquitin. The ubiquitin cross-reactive protein (UCRP) was not constitutively present in control cells but was significantly induced in various cells sensitive to the biological effects of interferons. Induction of UCRP with respect to both time and interferon concentration dependence closely paralleled the appearance of resistance to viral infection and could be blocked by low levels of actinomycin D. Subsequent studies demonstrated that UCRP was identical to an interferon-induced 15-kDa protein whose sequence has recently been reported (Blomstrom, D. C., Fahey, D., Kutny, R., Korant, B. D., and Knight, E. (1986) J. Biol. Chem. 261, 8811-8816). An authentic sample of the 15-kDa protein was found to co-migrate with UCRP and to cross-react with two different anti-ubiquitin antibodies. Using the authentic 15-kDa protein as a standard, UCRP accumulated to 6.2 +/- 0.5 pmol/10(6) cells and 34 +/- 2 pmol/10(6) cells in interferon-treated A-549 and L929 cultures, respectively. Comparison of the primary sequence of the 15-kDa protein to that of ubiquitin indicated that the former is composed of two domains, each of which bears striking homology to ubiquitin. These observations suggest that the 15-kDa protein may represent one example of a functionally distinct family of ubiquitin-like proteins.

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