Human leukocyte interferon (HuLeIF) preparations were separated into populations of molecules with different sizes, by sodium dodecyl sulphate polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis (SDS-PAGE), and with different charges, by isoelectric focusing. These populations with different sizes and charges were analysed for their antiviral activity on homologous cells and on heterologous (bovine) cells.

The distribution of interferon activity into two broad peaks by SDS-PAGE was similar whether assayed on human or bovine cells. However, within these peaks, the relative ratio of the activity in human cells and bovine cells varied significantly: while most of the size components had similar human/bovine cell activities, the fastest migrating component (apparent mol. wt. ∼ 13500) was more than 100 times more active on bovine cells than on human cells.

The peaks of activity in isoelectric focusing were distributed from pH 5.5 to 7.0. There was generally correspondence between human and bovine cell activities, but while the more neutral pH range peaks were consistently slightly more active on human cells than on bovine cells, the more acid range peaks were always slightly more active on bovine cells than on human cells. However, with the most acidic peak, there was more than 100 times greater activity on bovine cells than on human cells.

These data show that the heterogeneity of HuLeIFs is greater than merely two size populations, and data confirm that different forms of human leukocyte interferon can vary markedly in biological activity.


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