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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

The plasmid pcDNA3 differentially induces production of interferon-alpha and interleukin-6 in cultures of porcine leukocytes.

An adjuvant effect of invertebrate DNA has been attributed to its relative high frequency of unmethylated CpG dinucleotides. Here we describe the interferon-alpha (IFN-alpha) and interleukin-6 (IL-6) inducing properties of a commonly used eukaryotic expression vector, pcDNA3, in porcine leukocytes. The magnitude of the cytokine response was compared to that induced by the synthetic ds RNA analogue poly(I):poly(C), inactivated preparations of Aujeszky's disease virus (ADV) and the Gram-negative bacteria Actinobacillus pleuropneumoniae. The plasmid, as well as poly(I):poly(C), required lipofectin to induce IFN-alpha production whereas both preparations induced IL-6 irrespective of preincubation with lipofectin. However, the nucleic acid-induced levels of IL-6 were low compared to those induced by A. pleuropneumoniae. The IFN-alpha response elicited by pcDNA3 in the presence of lipofectin was as high as, or higher than that induced by ADV. Interestingly, also A. pleuropneumoniae induced a substantial production of IFN-alpha when preincubated with lipofectin. Plasmid expression was not necessary for induction of IFN-alpha. Furthermore, the IFN-alpha inducing capacity of pcDNA3 was not reduced when the two predicted immunostimulatory sequences 5'AACGTT3' were deleted. Nor did the ability of the plasmid to induce IFN-alpha production decrease when the ampicillin resistance (ampR) gene was replaced with the kanamycin resistance (kanR) gene. However, methylation of all cytidines in CpG dinucleotides of pcDNA3 abolished the IFN-alpha inducing capacity. These in vitro results indicate an immunomodulatory role of bacterial DNA also in the pig. Unmethylated CpG dinucleotides are crucial for induction of IFN-alpha by the plasmid, but other CpG motifs than those within the 5'AACGTT3' sequences of the ampR gene contribute to this induction in porcine cells.[1]


  1. The plasmid pcDNA3 differentially induces production of interferon-alpha and interleukin-6 in cultures of porcine leukocytes. Magnusson, M., Johansson, E., Berg, M., Eloranta, M.L., Fuxler, L., Fossum, C. Vet. Immunol. Immunopathol. (2001) [Pubmed]
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