Tissue and T cell distribution of precursor and mature IL-16


IL-16 is a novel cytokine, which is chemoattractant for CD4+ T cells, macrophages, and eosinophils. Recently, it was reported that IL-16 is synthesized as an approximately 80-kDa precursor molecule, pro-IL-16. Since little is known about the processing and tissue distribution of IL-16 and pro-IL-16, we investigated the distribution of IL-16 mRNA and protein in human lymphoid tissue. Northern blotting identified IL-16 mRNA predominantly in normal lymphoid organs, including PBMC, spleen, and thymus. Immunohistochemistry of human lymph node localized IL-16 protein to lymphocyte cytoplasm within T cell zones and occasionally in lymphocytes in B cell zones. Flow cytometric detection of intracellular IL-16 showed that >70% of CD4+ and CD8+ T cells constitutively expressed IL-16 protein. Western blot analysis of PBMC revealed nearly all of this protein to be approximately 80-kDa pro-IL-16 in unstimulated PBMC, and upon cell activation, the amino terminus of pro-IL-16 is processed into multiple fragments. These results show that pro-IL-16 is widely and constitutively expressed and suggest that the amino terminus of the protein can be processed upon cell activation.

Publication Title

Journal of Immunology

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