Blackwell Publishing Journal Backfiles 1879-2005
The human ciliary neurotrophic factor (CNTF) gene was identified and cloned, based on homology with the recently cloned rat cDNA. The gene encodes a protein of 200 amino acids, which shares about 80% sequence identity with rat and rabbit CNTF and, like these homologues, lacks an apparent secretion signal sequence. The human CNTF gene, like the rat gene, appears to contain a single intron separating two protein coding exons. An intronless human CNTF gene was constructed by the use of polymerase chain reactions and introduced into vectors designed for expression of foreign proteins in E. coli. The rat CNTF gene was also introduced into similar vectors. Both the human and rat proteins were expressed at exceptionally high levels, at 20–40% and 60–70% of total protein, respectively. Extraction of the recombinant proteins from inclusion bodies by guanidinium chloride, followed by two column chromatography steps, produced high yields of pure CNTF that supported survival and neurite outgrowth from embryonic chick ciliary neurons in culture. The biological activity of both recombinant proteins was comparable to that of native rat CNTF.
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