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Recombinant human interferon-gamma (Hu-IFN-gamma) produced by Chinese-hamster ovary (CHO) cells was analysed by immunoprecipitation and SDS/PAGE. Up to twelve molecular-mass variants were secreted by this cell line. Three variants were recovered after enzymic removal of all N-linked oligosaccharides or when glycosylation was inhibited by tunicamycin. The presence of three polypeptide forms rather than a single form suggested that proteolytic cleavage had occurred at two sites in both the glycosylated and non-glycosylated forms. Proteolytically cleaved IFN-gamma was more prevalent in cell lysates than in the secreted glycoprotein. In common with naturally produced IFN-gamma, both fully glycosylated IFN-gamma (asparagine residues 28 and 100 occupied) and partially glycosylated product (thought to be substituted at position Asn28) were secreted. This was deduced from the Mr of the glycosylated products and the relative amounts of sialic acid expressed by each variant. In contrast with naturally produced IFN-gamma, non-glycosylated IFN-gamma was also secreted by the transfected CHO cells. When the cells were grown in batch culture in serum-free medium under pH and dissolved-oxygen control, the proportion of non-glycosylated IFN-gamma increased from 3 to 5% after 3 h, to 30% of the total IFN-gamma present after 195 h. This change in the proportion of glycosylated protein produced was not seen when metabolically labelled IFN-gamma was incubated for 96 h with cell-free supernatant from actively growing CHO cells. This implied that an alteration in intracellular glycosylation was occurring rather than a degradation of oligosaccharide side chains after secretion. The decrease in IFN-gamma glycosylation was independent of the glucose concentration in the culture medium, but could be related to specific growth and IFN-gamma production rates, as these declined steadily after 50 h of culture, in line with the increased production of non-glycosylated IFN-gamma.

Original publication




Journal article


Biochem J

Publication Date





333 - 337


Animals, Cell Line, Cricetinae, Cricetulus, Endopeptidases, Female, Glycosylation, Humans, Interferon-gamma, Kinetics, Methionine, Molecular Weight, Ovary, Protein Processing, Post-Translational, Recombinant Proteins, Sulfur Radioisotopes, Tunicamycin