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J Interferon Cytokine Res. 1997 Sep;17(9):559-66.

Both variant forms of interferon-alpha4 gene (IFNA4a and IFNA4b) are present in the human population.

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  • 1Interferon Sciences, Inc., New Brunswick, NJ 08901, USA.


Alpha interferons (IFN-alpha) are a class of cytokines with various activities that are used as therapeutic agents for treatment of cancer and viral and immune disorder diseases. At least 13 IFN-alpha genes and 1 IFN-alpha pseudogene have been identified, which are clustered on human chromosome 9. Among the known IFN-alpha species, a number of allelic variants have been reported. Two variants of IFN-alpha4 (IFN-alpha4a and IFN-alpha4b) are known, which differ from each other by changes in their coding regions at nucleotide positions 220 and 410 and can be distinguished by selective restriction enzyme analysis. We have developed oligonucleotide primers for specific amplification of IFN-alpha4 gene fragments using the polymerase chain reaction (PCR). Genomic DNA obtained from over 28,000 normal healthy individuals and six human cell lines were used in this study. The resulting PCR products were analyzed by restriction endonuclease digestion and DNA sequencing to identify the presence of variant sequences. The results show that the DNA sequences for both variants of IFN-alpha4 are found in the population in nearly equal proportion. Individuals with either homozygous (e.g., alpha4a/alpha4a or alpha4b/alpha4b) or heterozygous (i.e., alpha4a/alpha4b) IFN-alpha4 genes were detected. Among the cell lines, KG-1, EB-3, and HTB-10 cells contain the genes for IFN-alpha4a only, whereas U-937, Namalwa, and Daudi cells contain the genes for both IFN-alpha4a and IFN-alpha4b.

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