The cDNA coding for xanthine dehydrogenase (XD) is isolated from mouse liver mRNA by cross-hybridization with a DNA fragment of the Drosophila melanogaster homologue. Two lambda bacteriophage overlapping clones represent the copy of a 4538-nucleotide-residue-long transcript with an open reading frame of 4005 nucleotide residues, coding for a putative polypeptide of 1335 amino acid residues. Comparison of the deduced amino acid sequence of the mouse XD with those of the Drosophila and the rat homologues shows a high conservation of this protein (55% identity between mouse and Drosophila, and 94% identity between mouse and rat). RNA blotting analysis demonstrates that interferon-alpha (IFN-alpha) and its inducers, i.e. poly(I).poly(C), bacterial lipopolysaccharide (LPS) and tilorone (2,7-bis-[2-(diethylamino)ethoxy]fluoren-9-one), increase the expression of XD mRNA in liver. Poly(I).poly(C) also induces XD mRNA in several other tissues in vivo. Protein synthesis de novo is not required for the elevation of XD mRNA after IFN-alpha treatment, since cycloheximide does not block the induction. The elevation of XD mRNA concentration is relatively fast and precedes the induction of both XD and xanthine oxidase (XO) enzymic activities.

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