Ciliary neurotrophic factor (CNTF) is a survival factor for avian ciliary ganglion neurons and a variety of other neuronal cell types in vitro. We report here the cloning of the entire genomic sequence encoding human CNTF and its primary structure. Biologically active CNTF has been expressed in Chinese hamster ovary cells from a human genomic DNA clone. Human CNTF has no significant sequence similarity to any previously reported protein, although approximately 84% similarity exists compared with rat and rabbit CNTF. The lack of both an N-terminal signal sequence and consensus sequences for glycosylation or hydrophobic regions, and the fact that active CNTF is expressed but not released into the culture medium of transfected cells, argue in favour of human CNTF as a cytosolic protein. These data provide a basis for understanding the role of CNTF in nervous system physiology and pathology.
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