Expression of membrane interleukin 1 by fibroblasts transfected with murine pro-interleukin 1α cDNA

R. C. Fuhlbrigge, S. M. Fine, E. R. Unanue, D. D. Chaplin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Studies of interleukin 1 (IL-1) α and β have emphasized their functional similarities. IL-1α and -β are encoded by ancestrally related genes that have diverged dramatically in primary sequence; however, only modest differences in the regulation or biological activity of IL-1α and IL-1β have been documented. Here we show that mouse L cells transfected with murine pro-IL-1α cDNA expressed biologically active, 33-kilodalton pro-IL-1α, and that this pro molecule was neither processed to the 17-kilodalton mature form nor secreted. The transfected cells also expressed membrane-associated IL-1 biological activity, indicating that the pro-IL-1α cDNA can direct expression of membrane-associated IL-1 and that cleavage of the pro molecule is not required for membrane presentation. In contrast, transfection of pro-IL-1β cDNA did not generate biologically active material in L cells. Evidence is presented that the native murine IL-1β precursor molecule is also biologically inactive in peritoneal exudate cells stimulated with lipopolysaccharide. These differences in distribution of the bioactive forms of IL-1α and IL-1β may provide selective advantages for the maintenance of two gene products with similar functions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5649-5653
Number of pages5
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number15
StatePublished - 1988


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