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Vet Immunol Immunopathol. 1997 Jun;57(1-2):121-34.

Molecular cloning and mRNA expression of porcine interleukin-12.

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Department of Veterinary PathoBiology, College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Minnesota, St. Paul 55108, USA.


Interleukin (IL)-12 is a heterodimeric cytokine consisting of 35 and 40 kDa subunits, produced primarily by phagocytic cells in response to bacteria or bacterial products. IL-12 is important in the regulation of both innate and antigen-specific immunity through its stimulatory effects on NK cells and cytotoxic lymphocytes. Reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction with primers derived from human sequence was used to clone the p35 and p40 subunits of porcine IL-12. Predicted amino acid sequences for both subunits are approximately 85% homologous to their human cognates but contain a 3aa addition and a 4aa deletion in p35 and p40 subunits, respectively. The high degree of similarity indicates the proteins may be cross reactive, an important consideration in pig-human xenotransplantation. Both subunits of pIL-12 are constitutively expressed in a variety of porcine tissues. Highest levels of the p40 subunit were found in lymphoid tissues including inguinal and mesenteric lymph nodes, Peyer's patches, spleen and thymus. The p35 subunit was also detected in these tissues. Levels of mRNA encoding the p40 subunit, but not the p35 subunit, were rapidly increased in alveolar macrophages stimulated with lipopolysaccharide or killed Staphylococcus aureus. Thus, the heterodimeric subunits appear to be differentially regulated at the transcriptional level. Since p40 also self-associates to form inactive homodimers, differential expression may be a mechanism for regulating IL-12 activity.

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