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Immunol Lett. 1987 Dec;16(3-4):219-26.

Gene cloning and structure--function relationship of cytokines such as TNF and interleukins.

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Laboratory of Molecular Biology, University of Gheni, Belgium.


The genes for a number of proteins, potentially useful in cancer therapy and collectively called "biological response modifiers", have been cloned and expressed in micro-organisms in recent years. These recombinant proteins, which are now available in pure form in nearly unlimited quantities, include interferons, interleukins and cytotoxins such as Tumor Necrosis Factor (TNF) and lymphotoxin. Most often the human gene has been cloned and expressed, with view to possible applications in medicine, but usually the mouse equivalent gene was also characterized in order to carry out syngeneic animal model experiments. TNF is selectively toxic for many transformed cell lines, either alone or in combination with interferon or inhibitors of RNA or protein synthesis. Cells sensitive to the cytotoxic action of TNF and cells unaffected by it nonetheless usually carry about an equal number of TNF receptors; hence it is the secondary, intracellular signal which makes the difference between a transformed cell and a normal, diploid cell. TNF can induce a number of different genes in a variety of cells; for example, endothelial cells express a surface antigen responsible for adherence of leucocytes. Another gene which is induced by TNF is interleukin 6 (also called 26 kDa protein or BSF-2). This interleukin, IL-6, is a growth and differentiation factor for B cells as well as for T cells; it is responsible for functions previously ascribed to hepatocyte-stimulating factor, but has no interferon activity. The toxic action of TNF on tumor cells must involve the release of arachidonic acid as phospholipase inhibitors block the TNF-induced effects.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS).

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