Methods of inhibiting interleukin-17 receptor
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Isolated receptors for IL-17, DNA's encoding such receptors, and pharmaceutical compositions made therefrom, are disclosed. The isolated receptors can be used to regulate an immune response.

Yao, Zhengbin (Lafayette, CO, US)
Spriggs, Melanie K. (Seattle, WA, US)
Fanslow, William C. (Federal Way, WA, US)
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Immunex Corporation
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C12N5/02; G01N33/53; A61K38/00; A61K38/17; A61K48/00; A61P29/00; A61P37/00; C07K14/54; C07K14/715; C07K16/28; C12N5/10; C12N15/00; C12N15/02; C12N15/09; C12N15/12; C12N15/85; C12P21/02; C12P21/08; G01N33/577; G01N33/68; C12R1/91
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We claim:

1. A method of interfering with Interleukin-17 binding an Interleukin-17 receptor, comprising contacting an antibody that specifically binds SEQ ID NO:10 to a cell expressing a polypeptide comprising SEQ ID NO:10 in the presence of IL-17, wherein said antibody binds said polypeptide and thereby interferes with Interleukin-17 binding to and activating said Interleukin-17 receptor.

2. The method of claim 1, wherein said antibody specifically binds the extracellular domain of SEQ ID NO:10.

3. The method of claim 2, wherein said antibody specifically binds amino acids 28 through 320 of SEQ ID NO:10.

4. The method of claims 1-3, wherein said antibody is a monoclonal antibody.



This application is a divisional of U.S. patent application Ser. No. 10/742,372, filed Dec. 18, 2003, now allowed; which is a continuation of U.S. patent application Ser. No. 09/549,679, filed Apr. 14, 2000, now U.S. Pat. No. 6,680,057; which is a continuation of U.S. patent application Ser. No. 09/022,259, filed Feb. 11, 1998, now U.S. Pat. No. 6,191,104; which is a divisional of U.S. patent application Ser. No. 08/620,694, filed Mar. 21, 1996, now U.S. Pat. No. 5,869,286; which is a continuation-in-part of U.S. patent application Ser. No. 08/538,765, filed Aug. 7, 1995, now abandoned; which is a continuation-in-part of U.S. patent application Ser. No. 08/410,535, filed Mar. 23, 1995, now abandoned.


The present invention relates generally to the field of cytokine receptors, and more specifically to cytokine receptor proteins having immunoregulatory activity.


Cytokines are hormone-like molecules that regulate various aspects of an immune or inflammatory response. Cytokines exert their effects by specifically binding receptors present on cells, and transducing a signal to the cells. Rouvier et al. (J. Immunol. 150:5445; 1993) reported a novel cDNA which they termed CTLA-8. The putative CTLA8 protein is 57% homologous to the predicted amino acid sequence of an open reading frame (ORF) present in Herpesvirus saimiri (HSV) referred to as HVS13 (Nicholas et al. Virol. 179:1 89, 1990; Albrecht et al., J. Virol. 66:5047;1992). However, the function, if any of either CTLA-8 or HVS13 was not known, nor was a receptor or binding protein for CTLA-8 or HVS13 known. Thus, prior to the present invention, there was a need in the art to determine the function of CTLA-8 and HVS13, and to identify receptor molecules or binding proteins that play a role in the function of these proteins.


The present invention identifies a novel receptor that binds IL-17 (CTLA-8) and HVS13, a viral homolog of IL-17; DNAs encoding the novel receptor and novel receptor proteins are provided. The receptor is a Type I transmembrane protein; the mouse receptor has 864 amino acid residues, the human receptor has 866 amino acid residues. Soluble forms of the receptor can be prepared and used to regulate immune responses in a therapeutic setting; accordingly, pharmaceutical compositions comprising soluble forms of the novel receptor are also provided. Deleted forms and fusion proteins comprising the novel receptor, and homologs thereof are also disclosed. Also provided are methods of regulating an immune response, and methods of suppressing rejection of grafted organs or tissue. These and other aspects of the present invention will become evident upon reference to the following detailed description of the invention.


A soluble IL-17 (CTLA-8) protein and an ORF present in Herpesvirus saimiri (HVS13) were expressed as fusion proteins comprising an immunoglobulin Fc region, and used to screen cells for expression of a receptor for IL-17. T cell thymoma EL4 cells were found to bind the HVS13/Fc as well as murine CTLA8 (IL-17)/Fc fusion protein. A cDNA library from EL4 cells was prepared and screened for expression of the receptor. The receptor is a Type I transmembrane protein with 864 amino acid residues, which is referred to as IL-17R (CTLA-8R). Various forms of IL-17R were prepared, including IL-17R/Fc protein, a soluble IL-17R which contains the signal peptide and extracellular domain of IL-17R, and a soluble IL-17R/Flag® construct. A human IL-17R was isolated from a human peripheral blood lymphocyte library by cross-species hybridization, and exhibits similarities to the murine IL-17R. Oligonucleotide probes and primers are also disclosed.

IL-17, HVS13 and Homologous Proteins

CTLA-8 refers to a cDNA cloned from an activated T cell hybridoma clone (Rouvier et al., J. Immunol. 150:5445; 1993). Northern blot analysis indicated that CTLA-8 transcription was very tissue specific. The CTLA-8 gene was found to map at chromosomal site 1a in mice, and at 2q31 in humans. Although a protein encoded by the CTLA-8 gene was never identified by Rouvier et al, the predicted amino acid sequence of CTLA-8 was found to be 57% homologous to the predicted amino acid sequence of an ORF present in Herpesvirus Saimiri, HVS13. The CTLA-8 protein is referred to herein as Interleukin-17 (IL-17).

The complete nucleotide sequence of the genome of HVS has been reported (Albrecht et al., J. Virol. 66:5047; 1992). Additional studies on one of the HVS open reading frames (ORFs), HVS13, are described in Nicholas et al., Virol. 179:1 89; 1990. HVS13 is a late gene which is present in the Hind III-G fragment of HVS. Antisera developed against peptides derived from HVS13 are believed to react with a late protein (Nicholas et al., supra).

As described U.S. Ser. No. 08/462,353, a CIP of U.S. Ser. No. 08/410,536, filed Mar. 23, 1995, full length murine CTLA-8 protein and a CTLA-8/Fc fusion protein were expressed, tested, and found to act as a costimulus for the proliferation of T cells. Human IL-17 (CTLA-8) was identified by probing a human T cell library using a DNA fragment derived from degenerate PCR; homologs of IL-17 (CTLA-8) are expected to exist in other species as well. A full length HVS13 protein, as well as an HVS13/Fc fusion protein, were also expressed, and found to act in a similar manner to IL-17 (CTLA-8) protein. Moreover, other species of herpesviruses are also likely to encode proteins homologous to that encoded by HVS13.

Proteins and Analogs

The present invention provides isolated IL-17R and homologs thereof having immunoregulatory activity. Such proteins are substantially free of contaminating endogenous materials and, optionally, without associated native-pattern glycosylation. Derivatives of IL-17R within the scope of the invention also include various structural forms of the primary protein which retain biological activity. Due to the presence of ionizable amino and carboxyl groups, for example, an IL-17R protein may be in the form of acidic or basic salts, or may be in neutral form. Individual amino acid residues may also be modified by oxidation or reduction.

The primary amino acid structure may be modified by forming covalent or aggregative conjugates with other chemical moieties, such as glycosyl groups, lipids, phosphate, acetyl groups and the like, or by creating amino acid sequence mutants. Covalent derivatives are prepared by linking particular functional groups to amino acid side chains or at the N- or C-termini.

Soluble forms of IL-17R are also within the scope of the invention. The nucleotide and predicted amino acid sequence of the murine IL-17R is shown in SEQ ID NOs:1 and 2. Computer analysis indicated that the protein has an N-terminal signal peptide with a cleavage site between amino acid 31 and 32. Those skilled in the art will recognize that the actual cleavage site may be different than that predicted by computer analysis. Thus, the N-terminal amino acid of the cleaved peptide is expected to be within about five amino acids on either side of the predicted cleavage site. The signal peptide is followed by a 291 amino acid extracellular domain, a 21 amino acid transmembrane domain, and a 521 amino acid cytoplasmic tail. Soluble IL-17R comprises the signal peptide and the extracellular domain (residues 1 to 322 of SEQ ID NO:1) or a fragment thereof. Alternatively, a different signal peptide can be substituted for residues 1 through 31 of SEQ ID NO:1.

The nucleotide and predicted amino acid sequence of the human IL-17R is shown in SEQ ID NOs:9 and 10. It shares many features with the murine IL-17 R. Computer analysis indicated that the protein has an N-terminal signal peptide with a cleavage site between amino acid 27 and 28. Those skilled in the art will recognize that the actual cleavage site may be different than that predicted by computer analysis. Thus, the N-terminal amino acid of the cleaved peptide is expected to be within about five amino acids on either side of the predicted cleavage site. The signal peptide is followed by a 293 amino acid extracellular domain, a 21 amino acid transmembrane domain, and a 525 amino acid cytoplasmic tail. Soluble IL-17R comprises the signal peptide and the extracellular domain (residues 1 to 320 of SEQ ID NO:1) or a fragment thereof. Alternatively, a different signal peptide can be substituted for the native signal peptide.

Other derivatives of the IL-17R protein and homologs thereof within the scope of this invention include covalent or aggregative conjugates of the protein or its fragments with other proteins or polypeptides, such as by synthesis in recombinant culture as N-terminal or C-terminal fusions. For example, the conjugated peptide may be a signal (or leader) polypeptide sequence at the N-terminal region of the protein which co-translationally or post-translationally directs transfer of the protein from its site of synthesis to its site of function inside or outside of the cell membrane or wall (e.g., the yeast α-factor leader).

Protein fusions can comprise peptides added to facilitate purification or identification of IL-17R proteins and homologs (e.g., poly-His). The amino acid sequence of the inventive proteins can also be linked to an identification peptide such as that described by Hopp et al., Bio/Technology 6:1204 (1988). Such a highly antigenic peptide provides an epitope reversibly bound by a specific monoclonal antibody, enabling rapid assay and facile purification of expressed recombinant protein. The sequence of Hopp et al. is also specifically cleaved by bovine mucosal enterokinase, allowing removal of the peptide from the purified protein. Fusion proteins capped with such peptides may also be resistant to intracellular degradation in E. coli.

Fusion proteins further comprise the amino acid sequence of a IL-17R linked to an immunoglobulin Fc region. An exemplary Fc region is a human IgGI having a nucleotide and amino acid sequence set forth in SEQ ID NO:4. Fragments of an Fc region may also be used, as can Fc muteins such as those described in U.S. Ser. No. 08/145,830, filed Oct. 29, 1993. Depending on the portion of the Fc region used, a fusion protein may be expressed as a dimer, through formation of interchain disulfide bonds. If the fusion proteins are made with both heavy and light chains of an antibody, it is possible to form a protein oligomer with as many as four IL-17R regions.

In another embodiment, IL-17R and homologs thereof further comprise an oligomerizing zipper domain. Zipper domains are described in U.S. Ser. No. 08/107,353, filed Aug. 13, 1993, the relevant disclosure of which is incorporated by reference herein. Examples of leucine zipper domains are those found in the yeast transcription factor GCN4 and a heat-stable DNA-binding protein found in rat liver (C/EBP; Landschulz et al., Science 243:1681, 1989), the nuclear transforming proteins, fos and jun, which preferentially form a heterodimer (O'Shea et al., Science 245:646, 1989; Turner and Tjian, Science 243:1689, 1989), and the gene product of the murine proto-oncogene, c-myc (Landschulz et al., Science 240:1759, 1988). The fusogenic proteins of several different viruses, including paramyxovirus, coronavirus, measles virus and many retroviruses, also possess leucine zipper domains (Buckland and Wild, Nature 338:547, 1989; Britton, Nature 353:394, 1991; Delwart and Mosialos, AIDS Research and Human Retroviruses 6:703, 1990).

Derivatives of IL-17R may also be used as immunogens, reagents in in vitro assays, or as binding agents for affinity purification procedures. Such derivatives may also be obtained by cross-linking agents, such as M-maleimidobenzoyl succinimide ester and N-hydroxysuccinimide, at cysteine and lysine residues. The inventive proteins may also be covalently bound through reactive side groups to various insoluble substrates, such as cyanogen bromide-activated, bisoxirane-activated, carbonyldiimidazole-activated or tosyl-activated agarose structures, or by adsorbing to polyolefin surfaces (with or without glutaraldehyde cross-linking). Once bound to a substrate, proteins may be used to selectively bind (for purposes of assay or purification) antibodies raised against the IL-17R or against other proteins which are similar to the IL-17R, as well as other proteins that bind IL-17R or its homologous proteins.

The present invention also includes IL-17R with or without associated native-pattern glycosylation. Proteins expressed in yeast or mammalian expression systems, e.g., COS-7 cells, may be similar or slightly different in molecular weight and glycosylation pattern than the native molecules, depending upon the expression system. Expression of DNAs encoding the inventive proteins in bacteria such as E. coli provides non-glycosylated molecules. Functional mutant analogs of IL-17R protein or homologs thereof having inactivated N-glycosylation sites can be produced by oligonucleotide synthesis and ligation or by site-specific mutagenesis techniques. These analog proteins can be produced in a homogeneous, reduced-carbohydrate form in good yield using yeast expression systems. N-glycosylation sites in eukaryotic proteins are characterized by the amino acid triplet Asn-A1-Z, where A1 is any amino acid except Pro, and Z is Ser or Thr. In this sequence, asparagine provides a side chain amino group for covalent attachment of carbohydrate. Such a site can be eliminated by substituting another amino acid for Asn or for residue Z, deleting Asn or Z, or inserting a non-Z amino acid between A1 and Z, or an amino acid other than Asn between Asn and A1.

IL-17R protein derivatives may also be obtained by mutations of the native IL-17R or its subunits. A IL-17R mutated protein, as referred to herein, is a polypeptide homologous to a IL-17R protein but which has an amino acid sequence different from the native IL-17R because of one or a plurality of deletions, insertions or substitutions. The effect of any mutation made in a DNA encoding a IL-17R peptide may be easily determined by analyzing the ability of the mutated IL-1 7R peptide to inhibit costimulation of T or B cells by IL-17 (CTLA-8) or homologous proteins, or to bind proteins that specifically bind IL-17R (for example, antibodies or proteins encoded by the CTLA-8 cDNA or the HVS13 ORF). Moreover, activity of IL-17R analogs, muteins or derivatives can be determined by any of the assays methods described herein. Similar mutations may be made in homologs of IL-17R, and tested in a similar manner.

Bioequivalent analogs of the inventive proteins may be constructed by, for example, making various substitutions of residues or sequences or deleting terminal or internal residues or sequences not needed for biological activity. For example, cysteine residues can be deleted or replaced with other amino acids to prevent formation of incorrect intramolecular disulfide bridges upon renaturation. Other approaches to mutagenesis involve modification of adjacent dibasic amino acid residues to enhance expression in yeast systems in which KEX2 protease activity is present.

Generally, substitutions should be made conservatively; i.e., the most preferred substitute amino acids are those which do not affect the ability of the inventive proteins to bind their ligands in a manner substantially equivalent to that of native mIL-17R or hIL-17R. Examples of conservative substitutions include substitution of amino acids outside of the binding domain(s), and substitution of amino acids that do not alter the secondary and/or tertiary structure of IL-17R and homologs thereof. Additional examples include substituting one aliphatic residue for another, such as Ile, Val, Leu, or Ala for one another, or substitutions of one polar residue for another, such as between Lys and Arg; Glu and Asp; or Gln and Asn. Other such conservative substitutions, for example, substitutions of entire regions having similar hydrophobicity characteristics, are well known.

Similarly, when a deletion or insertion strategy is adopted, the potential effect of the deletion or insertion on biological activity should be considered. Subunits of the inventive proteins may be constructed by deleting terminal or internal residues or sequences. Fragments of IL-17R that bind IL-17 can be readily prepared (for example, by using restriction enzymes to delete portions of the DNA) and tested for their ability to bind IL-17. Additional guidance as to the types of mutations that can be made is provided by a comparison of the sequence of IL-17R to proteins that have similar structures, as well as by performing structural analysis of the inventive proteins.

Mutations in nucleotide sequences constructed for expression of analog IL-17R CTLA-8R) must, of course, preserve the reading frame phase of the coding sequences and preferably will not create complementary regions that could hybridize to produce secondary mRNA structures such as loops or hairpins which would adversely affect translation of the receptor mRNA. Although a mutation site may be predetermined, it is not necessary that the nature of the mutation per se be predetermined. For example, in order to select for optimum characteristics of mutants at a given site, random mutagenesis may be conducted at the target codon and the expressed mutated viral proteins screened for the desired activity.

Not all mutations in the nucleotide sequence which encodes a IL-17R protein or homolog thereof will be expressed in the final product, for example, nucleotide substitutions may be made to enhance expression, primarily to avoid secondary structure loops in the transcribed mRNA (see EPA 75,444A, incorporated herein by reference), or to provide codons that are more readily translated by the selected host, e.g., the well-known E. coli preference codons for E. coli expression.

Mutations can be introduced at particular loci by synthesizing oligonucleotides containing a mutant sequence, flanked by restriction sites enabling ligation to fragments of the native sequence. Following ligation, the resulting reconstructed sequence encodes an analog having the desired amino acid insertion, substitution, or deletion.

Alternatively, oligonucleotide-directed site-specific mutagenesis procedures can be employed to provide an altered gene having particular codons altered according to the substitution, deletion, or insertion required. Exemplary methods of making the alterations set forth above are disclosed by Walder et al. (Gene 42:133, 1986); Bauer et al. (Gene 37:73, 1985); Craik (BioTechniques, January 1985, 12-19); Smith et al. (Genetic Engineering: Principles and Methods, Plenum Press, 1981); and U.S. Pat. Nos. 4,518,584 and 4,737,462 disclose suitable techniques, and are incorporated by reference herein.

Due to code degeneracy, there can be considerable variation in nucleotide sequences encoding the same amino acid sequence. Other embodiments include sequences capable of hybridizing under moderately stringent conditions (prewashing solution of 5×SSC, 0.5% SDS, 1.0 mM EDTA (pH 8.0) and hybridization conditions of 50° C., 5×SSC, overnight) to the DNA sequences encoding IL-17R, and other sequences which are degenerate to those which encode the IL-17R. In a preferred embodiment, IL-17R analogs are at least about 70% identical in amino acid sequence to the amino acid sequence of IL-17R proteins as set forth in SEQ ID NO:1 or SEQ ID NO:9. Similarly, analogs of IL-17R homologs are at least about 70% identical in amino acid sequence to the amino acid sequence of the native, homologous proteins. In a most preferred embodiment, analogs of IL-17R or homologs thereof are at least about 80% identical in amino acid sequence to the native form of the inventive proteins.

Percent identity may be determined using a computer program, for example, the GAP computer program described by Devereux et al. (Nucl. Acids Res. 12:387, 1984) and available from the University of Wisconsin Genetics Computer Group (UWGCG). For fragments derived from the IL-17R protein, the identity is calculated based on that portion of the IL-17R protein that is present in the fragment. Similar methods can be used to analyze homologs of IL-17R.

The ability of IL-17R analogs to bind CTLA-8 can be determined by testing the ability of the analogs to inhibit IL-17 (CTLA-8) -induced T cell proliferation. Alternatively, suitable assays, for example, an enzyme immunoassay or a dot blot, employing CTLA-8 or HSV13 (or a homolog thereof which binds native IL-17R) can be used to assess the ability of IL-17R analogs to bind CTLA-8. Such methods are well known in the art.

The IL-17R proteins and analogs described herein will have numerous uses, including the preparation of pharmaceutical compositions. The inventive proteins will also be useful in preparing kits that are used to detect IL-17 or IL-17R, for example, in patient specimens. Such kits will also find uses in detecting the interaction of IL-17 and IL-17R, as is necessary when screening for antagonists or mimetics of this interaction (for example, peptides or small molecules that inhibit or mimic, respectively, the interaction). A variety of assay formats are useful in such kits, including (but not limited to) ELISA, dot blot, solid phase binding assays (such as those using a biosensor), rapid format assays and bioassays.

Expression of Recombinant Receptors for IL-17

The proteins of the present invention are preferably produced by recombinant DNA methods by inserting a DNA sequence encoding IL-17R protein or a homolog thereof into a recombinant expression vector and expressing the DNA sequence in a recombinant microbial expression system under conditions promoting expression. DNA sequences encoding the proteins provided by this invention can be assembled from cDNA fragments and short oligonucleotide linkers, or from a series of oligonucleotides, to provide a synthetic gene which is capable of being inserted in a recombinant expression vector and expressed in a recombinant transcriptional unit.

Recombinant expression vectors include synthetic or cDNA-derived DNA fragments encoding IL-17R, homologs, or bioequivalent analogs, operably linked to suitable transcriptional or translational regulatory elements derived from mammalian, microbial, viral or insect genes. Such regulatory elements include a transcriptional promoter, an optional operator sequence to control transcription, a sequence encoding suitable mRNA ribosomal binding sites, and sequences which control the termination of transcription and translation, as described in detail below. The ability to replicate in a host, usually conferred by an origin of replication, and a selection gene to facilitate recognition of transformants may additionally be incorporated.

DNA regions are operably linked when they are functionally related to each other. For example, DNA for a signal peptide (secretory leader) is operably linked to DNA for a polypeptide if it is expressed as a precursor which participates in the secretion of the polypeptide; a promoter is operably linked to a coding sequence if it controls the transcription of the sequence; or a ribosome binding site is operably linked to a coding sequence if it is positioned so as to permit translation. Generally, operably linked means contiguous and, in the case of secretory leaders, contiguous and in reading frame. DNA sequences encoding IL-17R or homologs which are to be expressed in a microorganism will preferably contain no introns that could prematurely terminate transcription of DNA into mRNA.

Useful expression vectors for bacterial use can comprise a selectable marker and bacterial origin of replication derived from commercially available plasmids comprising genetic elements of the well known cloning vector pBR322 (ATCC 37017). Such commercial vectors include, for example, pKK223-3 (Pharmacia Fine Chemicals, Uppsala, Sweden) and pGEM1 (Promega Biotec, Madison, Wis., USA). These pBR322 “backbone” sections are combined with an appropriate promoter and the structural sequence to be expressed. E. coli is typically transformed using derivatives of pBR322, a plasmid derived from an E. coli species (Bolivar et al., Gene 2:95, 1977). pBR322 contains genes for ampicillin and tetracycline resistance and thus provides simple means for identifying transformed cells.

Promoters commonly used in recombinant microbial expression vectors include the β-lactamase (penicillinase) and lactose promoter system (Chang et al., Nature 275:615, 1978; and Goeddel et al., Nature 281:544, 1979), the tryptophan (trp) promoter system (Goeddel et al., Nucl. Acids Res. 8:4057, 1980; and EPA 36,776) and tac promoter (Maniatis, Molecular Cloning: A Laboratory Manual, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, p. 412, 1982). A particularly useful bacterial expression system employs the phage λ PL promoter and cI857ts thermolabile repressor. Plasmid vectors available from the American Type Culture Collection which incorporate derivatives of the λ PL promoter include plasmid pHUB2, resident in E. coli strain JMB9 (ATCC 37092) and pPLc28, resident in E. coli RR1 (ATCC 53082).

Suitable promoter sequences in yeast vectors include the promoters for metallothionein, 3-phosphoglycerate kinase (Hitzeman et al., J. Biol. Chem. 255:2073, 1980) or other glycolytic enzymes (Hess et al., J. Adv. Enzyme Reg. 7:149, 1968; and Holland et al., Biochem. 17:4900, 1978), such as enolase, glyceraldehyde-3-phosphate dehydrogenase, hexokinase, pyruvate decarboxylase, phosphofructokinase, glucose-6-phosphate isomerase, 3-phosphoglycerate mutase, pyruvate kinase, triosephosphate isomerase, phosphoglucose isomerase, and glucokinase. Suitable vectors and promoters for use in yeast expression are further described in R. Hitzeman et al., EPA 73,657.

Preferred yeast vectors can be assembled using DNA sequences from pBR322 for selection and replication in E. coli (Ampr gene and origin of replication) and yeast DNA sequences including a glucose-repressible ADH2 promoter and a-factor secretion leader. The ADH2 promoter has been described by Russell et al. (J. Biol. Chem. 258:2674, 1982) and Beier et al. (Nature 300:724, 1982). The yeast α-factor leader, which directs secretion of heterologous proteins, can be inserted between the promoter and the structural gene to be expressed. See, e.g., Kuijan et al., Cell 30:933, 1982; and Bitter et al., Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 81:5330, 1984. The leader sequence may be modified to contain, near its 3′ end, one or more useful restriction sites to facilitate fusion of the leader sequence to foreign genes.

The transcriptional and translational control sequences in expression vectors to be used in transforming vertebrate cells may be provided by viral sources. For example, commonly used promoters and enhancers are derived from Polyoma, Adenovirus 2, Simian Virus 40 (SV40), and human cytomegalovirus. DNA sequences derived from the SV40 viral genome, for example, SV40 origin, early and late promoter, enhancer, splice, and polyadenylation sites may be used to provide the other genetic elements required for expression of a heterologous DNA sequence. The early and late promoters are particularly useful because both are obtained easily from the virus as a fragment which also contains the SV40 viral origin of replication (Fiers et al., Nature 273:113, 1978). Smaller or larger SV40 fragments may also be used, provided the approximately 250 bp sequence extending from the Hind III site toward the BglI site located in the viral origin of replication is included. Further, viral genomic promoter, control and/or signal sequences may be utilized, provided such control sequences are compatible with the host cell chosen. Exemplary vectors can be constructed as disclosed by Okayama and Berg (Mol. Cell. Biol. 3:280, 1983).

A useful system for stable high level expression of mammalian receptor cDNAs in C127 murine mammary epithelial cells can be constructed substantially as described by Cosman et al. (Mol. Immunol. 23:935, 1986). A preferred eukaryotic vector for expression of IL-17R DNA is referred to as pDC406 (McMahan et al., EMBO J. 10:2821, 1991), and includes regulatory sequences derived from SV40, human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), and Epstein-Barr virus (EBV). Other preferred vectors include pDC409 and pDC410, which are derived from pDC406. pDC410 was derived from pDC406 by substituting the EBV origin of replication with sequences encoding the SV40 large T antigen. pDC409 differs from pDC406 in that a Bgl II restriction site outside of the multiple cloning site has been deleted, making the Bgl II site within the multiple cloning site unique.

A useful cell line that allows for episomal replication of expression vectors, such as pDC406 and pDC409, which contain the EBV origin of replication, is CV-1/EBNA (ATCC CRL 10478). The CV-1/EBNA cell line was derived by transfection of the CV-1 cell line with a gene encoding Epstein-Barr virus nuclear antigen-1 (EBNA-1) and constitutively express EBNA-1 driven from human CMV immediate-early enhancer/promoter.

Host Cells

Transformed host cells are cells which have been transformed or transfected with expression vectors constructed using recombinant DNA techniques and which contain sequences encoding the proteins of the present invention. Transformed host cells may express the desired protein (IL-17R or homologs thereof), but host cells transformed for purposes of cloning or amplifying the inventive DNA do not need to express the protein. Expressed proteins will preferably be secreted into the culture supernatant, depending on the DNA selected, but may be deposited in the cell membrane.

Suitable host cells for expression of viral proteins include prokaryotes, yeast or higher eukaryotic cells under the control of appropriate promoters. Prokaryotes include gram negative or gram positive organisms, for example E. coli or Bacillus spp. Higher eukaryotic cells include established cell lines of mammalian origin as described below. Cell-free translation systems could also be employed to produce viral proteins using RNAs derived from the DNA constructs disclosed herein. Appropriate cloning and expression vectors for use with bacterial, fungal, yeast, and mammalian cellular hosts are described by Pouwels et al. (Cloning Vectors: A Laboratory Manual, Elsevier, New York, 1985), the relevant disclosure of which is hereby incorporated by reference.

Prokaryotic expression hosts may be used for expression of IL-17R or homologs that do not require extensive proteolytic and disulfide processing. Prokaryotic expression vectors generally comprise one or more phenotypic selectable markers, for example a gene encoding proteins conferring antibiotic resistance or supplying an autotrophic requirement, and an origin of replication recognized by the host to ensure amplification within the host. Suitable prokaryotic hosts for transformation include E. coli, Bacillus subtilis, Salmonella typhimurium, and various species within the genera Pseudomonas, Streptomyces, and Staphylococcus, although others may also be employed as a matter of choice.

Recombinant IL-17R may also be expressed in yeast hosts, preferably from the Saccharomyces species, such as S. cerevisiae. Yeast of other genera, such as Pichia or Kluyveromyces may also be employed. Yeast vectors will generally contain an origin of replication from the 2μ yeast plasmid or an autonomously replicating sequence (ARS), promoter, DNA encoding the viral protein, sequences for polyadenylation and transcription termination and a selection gene. Preferably, yeast vectors will include an origin of replication and selectable marker permitting transformation of both yeast and E. coli, e.g., the ampicillin resistance gene of E. coli and S. cerevisiae trp1 gene, which provides a selection marker for a mutant strain of yeast lacking the ability to grow in tryptophan, and a promoter derived from a highly expressed yeast gene to induce transcription of a structural sequence downstream. The presence of the trp1 lesion in the yeast host cell genome then provides an effective environment for detecting transformation by growth in the absence of tryptophan.

Suitable yeast transformation protocols are known to those of skill in the art; an exemplary technique is described by Hinnen et al., Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 75:1929, 1978, selecting for Trp+ transformants in a selective medium consisting of 0.67% yeast nitrogen base, 0.5% casamino acids, 2% glucose, 10 μg/ml adenine and 20 μg/ml uracil. Host strains transformed by vectors comprising the ADH2 promoter may be grown for expression in a rich medium consisting of 1% yeast extract, 2% peptone, and 1% glucose supplemented with 80 μg/ml adenine and 80 μg/ml uracil. Derepression of the ADH2 promoter occurs upon exhaustion of medium glucose. Crude yeast supernatants are harvested by filtration and held at 4° C. prior to further purification.

Various mammalian or insect cell culture systems can be employed to express recombinant protein. Baculovirus systems for production of heterologous proteins in insect cells are reviewed by Luckow and Summers, Bio/Technology 6:47 (1988). Examples of suitable mammalian host cell lines include the COS-7 lines of monkey kidney cells, described by Gluzman (Cell 23:175, 1981), and other cell lines capable of expressing an appropriate vector including, for example, CV-1/EBNA (ATCC CRL 10478), L cells, C127, 3T3, Chinese hamster ovary (CHO), HeLa and BHK cell lines. Mammalian expression vectors may comprise nontranscribed elements such as an origin of replication, a suitable promoter and enhancer linked to the gene to be expressed, and other 5′ or 3′ flanking nontranscribed sequences, and 5′ or 3′ nontranslated sequences, such as necessary ribosome binding sites, a polyadenylation site, splice donor and acceptor sites, and transcriptional termination sequences.

Purification of Receptors for IL-17

Purified IL-17R, homologs, or analogs are prepared by culturing suitable host/vector systems to express the recombinant translation products of the DNAs of the present invention, which are then purified from culture media or cell extracts. For example, supernatants from systems which secrete recombinant protein into culture media can be first concentrated using a commercially available protein concentration filter, for example, an Amicon or Millipore Pellicon ultrafiltration unit.

Following the concentration step, the concentrate can be applied to a suitable purification matrix. For example, a suitable affinity matrix can comprise a counter structure protein or lectin or antibody molecule bound to a suitable support. Alternatively, an anion exchange resin can be employed, for example, a matrix or substrate having pendant diethylaminoethyl (DEAE) groups. The matrices can be acrylamide, agarose, dextran, cellulose or other types commonly employed in protein purification. Alternatively, a cation exchange step can be employed. Suitable cation exchangers include various insoluble matrices comprising sulfopropyl or carboxymethyl groups. Sulfopropyl groups are preferred. Gel filtration chromatography also provides a means of purifying the inventive proteins.

Affinity chromatography is a particularly preferred method of purifying IL-17R and homologs thereof. For example, a IL-17R expressed as a fusion protein comprising an immunoglobulin Fc region can be purified using Protein A or Protein G affinity chromatography. Moreover, a IL-17R protein comprising an oligomerizing zipper domain may be purified on a resin comprising an antibody specific to the oligomerizing zipper domain. Monoclonal antibodies against the IL-17R protein may also be useful in affinity chromatography purification, by utilizing methods that are well-known in the art. A ligand (i.e., IL-17 or HVS-13) may also be used to prepare an affinity matrix for affinity purification of IL-17R.

Finally, one or more reversed-phase high performance liquid chromatography (RP-HPLC) steps employing hydrophobic RP-HPLC media, e.g., silica gel having pendant methyl or other aliphatic groups, can be employed to further purify a IL-17R composition. Some or all of the foregoing purification steps, in various combinations, can also be employed to provide a homogeneous recombinant protein.

Recombinant protein produced in bacterial culture is usually isolated by initial extraction from cell pellets, followed by one or more concentration, salting-out, aqueous ion exchange or size exclusion chromatography steps. Finally, high performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) can be employed for final purification steps. Microbial cells employed in expression of recombinant viral protein can be disrupted by any convenient method, including freeze-thaw cycling, sonication, mechanical disruption, or use of cell lysing agents.

Fermentation of yeast which express the inventive protein as a secreted protein greatly simplifies purification. Secreted recombinant protein resulting from a large-scale fermentation can be purified by methods analogous to those disclosed by Urdal et al. (J. Chromatog. 296:171, 1984). This reference describes two sequential, reversed-phase HPLC steps for purification of recombinant human GM-CSF on a preparative HPLC column.

Protein synthesized in recombinant culture is characterized by the presence of cell components, including proteins, in amounts and of a character which depend upon the purification steps taken to recover the inventive protein from the culture. These components ordinarily will be of yeast, prokaryotic or non-human higher eukaryotic origin and preferably are present in innocuous contaminant quantities, on the order of less than about 1 percent by weight. Further, recombinant cell culture enables the production of the inventive proteins free of other proteins which may be normally associated with the proteins as they are found in nature in the species of origin.

Administration of IL-17R Compositions

The present invention provides methods of using therapeutic compositions comprising an effective amount of a protein and a suitable diluent and carrier, and methods for regulating an immune response. The use of IL-17R or homologs in conjunction with soluble cytokine receptors or cytokines, or other immunoregulatory molecules is also contemplated. Moreover, DNA encoding soluble IL-17R will also be useful; a tissue or organ to be transplanted can be transfected with the DNA by any method known in the art. The organ or tissue thus expresses soluble IL-17R, which acts in the localized area of the graft to suppress rejection of the graft. Similar methods comprising administering such DNA's to the site of the graft will also show efficacy in ameliorating graft rejection.

For therapeutic use, purified protein is administered to a patient, preferably a human, for treatment in a manner appropriate to the indication. Thus, for example, IL-17R protein compositions administered to regulate immune function can be given by bolus injection, continuous infusion, sustained release from implants, or other suitable technique. Typically, a therapeutic agent will be administered in the form of a composition comprising purified IL-17R, in conjunction with physiologically acceptable carriers, excipients or diluents. Such carriers will be nontoxic to recipients at the dosages and concentrations employed.

Ordinarily, the preparation of such protein compositions entails combining the inventive protein with buffers, antioxidants such as ascorbic acid, low molecular weight (less than about 10 residues) polypeptides, proteins, amino acids, carbohydrates including glucose, sucrose or dextrins, chelating agents such as EDTA, glutathione and other stabilizers and excipients. Neutral buffered saline or saline mixed with conspecific serum albumin are exemplary appropriate diluents. Preferably, product is formulated as a lyophilizate using appropriate excipient solutions (e.g., sucrose) as diluents. Appropriate dosages can be determined in trials. The amount and frequency of administration will depend, of course, on such factors as the nature and severity of the indication being treated, the desired response, the condition of the patient, and so forth.

Receptors for IL-17 (CTLA-8) can be administered for the purpose of inhibiting T cell proliferation, or for inhibiting T cell activation. Soluble IL-17R are thus likely to be useful in preventing or treating organ or graft rejection, autoimmune disease, allergy or asthma. The inventive receptor proteins will also be useful for prevention or treatment of inflammatory disease in which activated T cells play a role. Similarly, HVS13 and homologs thereof stimulate B cell proliferation and immunoglobulin secretion; thus, receptors that bind HVS13 or CTLA-8 will be useful in vivo to inhibit B cell proliferation or immunoglobulin secretion. Receptors for CTLA-8 will also be useful to inhibit the binding of HVS13 or CTLA-8 to cells expressing IL-17R.

The following examples are offered by way of illustration, and not by way of limitation. Those skilled in the art will recognize that variations of the invention embodied in the examples can be made, especially in light of the teachings of the various references cited herein, the disclosures of which are incorporated by reference.


This example describes identification of cells that express a receptor (or counterstructure) for HVS13/mCTLA8. A chimeric protein (HVS13 type II Fc) consisting of an Fc region of a human immunoglobulin (SEQ ID NO:4) followed by the amino acid 19 to 151 of HVS 13 (SEQ ID NO:8) was prepared. A murine CTLA8/Fc (mCTLA8/Fc) was constructed by fusing amino acid 22 to 150 of mCTLA8 (SEQ ID NO:6) to the Fc region of human IgG1. A control Fc protein was constructed by a similar method. The HVS13/Fc and mCTLA-8 proteins were expressed and used to identify cell sources by flow cytometry.

Cells (1×106) were preincubated on ice for 30 minutes in 100 μl of FACS buffer (PBS, 1% FCS and 0.1% NaN3) containing 2% normal goat serum and 2% normal rabbit serum to block nonspecific binding. 100 μl of HVS 13/Fc, mCTLA-8/Fc or control/Fc protein was added at 5 μg/ml and incubated on ice for 30 min. After washing, the cells were stained with biotin labeled anti human IgG (Fc specific) followed by PE-conjugated streptavidin (Becton Dickson & Co, Mountain View, Calif.) in 100 μl of FACS buffer. Cells were then washed and analyzed using a FACScan (Becton Dickinson). A minimum of 5,000 cells were analyzed for each sample. More than a dozen cell lines were screened and it was found that both HVS13/Fc and mCTLA8/Fc fusion proteins bound specifically to the murine thymoma cell line EL4. These cells did not bind to the control/Fc fusion protein.


This example describes cloning of the gene that encodes IL-17R. After identification of a source for HVS13 counterstructure, an EL4 mammalian expression library was screened by a slide-binding autoradiographic method (Gearing et al., EMBO J. 8:3667, 1989). CV1/EBNA cells were maintained in Dulbecco's modified Eagle's medium (DMEM) containing 10% (v/v) fetal calf serum (FCS) at 37° C. in a humidified atmosphere containing 10% CO2 and passaged twice weekly. Subconfluent CV1/EBNA cell monolayers on fibronectin-treated chamber slides (Labtek) were transfected by a chloroquine-mediated DEAE-dextran procedure with plasmid DNAs derived from pooled transformants (2,000 transformants per pool) of murine EL4 cDNA library.

The CV1/EBNA cells transfected with the murine EL4 cDNA pools were assayed for HVS13/Fc binding two days after transfection using [125I] labeled goat anti-human IgG binding and slide autoradiography. Transfected cell monolayers were washed with binding medium (RPMI 1640 containing 1% bovine serum albumin and 50 mg/ml non-fat dry milk), then incubated with 1 μg/ml of HVS13/Fc for one hour at room temperature. Cells were washed, incubated with 125I-labeled goat anti-human IgG (New England nuclear, Cambridge, Mass.). Cells were washed twice with binding medium, three times with PBS, and fixed in PBS containing 2.5% gluteraldehyde for 30 minutes, washed twice more with PBS and air dried. The chamber slides were then dipped in Kodak GTNB-2 photographic emulsion and exposed for 3 days at 4° C. before developing.

Forty pools of approximately 2,000 cDNA each were transfected into CV1/EBNA cells. Two pools of cDNA were found to confer binding to HVS13/Fc protein. These pools were broken down to pools of 100 cDNAs, and subsequently to individual clones. Two single cDNA clones were isolated. These clones were transfected into CV1/EBNA to determine whether the protein encoded thereby conferred binding to both HVS13/Fc and mCTLA8/Fc. Both HVS/Fc and mCTLA8/Fc bound to CV1/EBNA cells transfected with the cloned cDNA, but not to cells transfected with empty vector. Control/Fc did not bind to either of them.

Sequencing of these clones found that they contained a 3.2 kb and 1.7 kb insert derived from same mRNA. The 3.2 kb clone contained an open reading frame of 2595 bp surrounded by 120 bp at the 5′ noncoding sequence and 573 bp of 3′ noncoding sequence. There were no in-frame stop codons upstream of the predicted initiator methionine, which is preceded by a purine residue (guanine) at −3 position, the most important indicator of a good translation initiation site (Kozak, Mol. Cell. Biol. 9:5134, 1989). It also has a guanine at +4 position, making it an optimal for translation initiation. The open reading frame is predicted to encode a type I transmembrane protein of 864 amino acids. The nucleotide and predicted amino acid sequence is shown in SEQ ID NOs:2 and 2.

Computer analysis indicated that the protein has an N-terminal signal peptide with a cleavage site between amino acid 31 and 32. The signal peptide is followed by a 291 amino acid extracellular domain, a 21 amino acid transmembrane domain, and a 521 amino acid cytoplasmic tail. There are eight potential N-linked glycosylation sites in the extracellular domain of the protein. The predicted molecular weight for this protein is 97.8 kilodaltons with an estimated isoelectric point of 4.85. Comparison of both nucleotide and amino acid sequences with the GenBank or EMBL databases found no significant homology with known nucleotide and protein sequences.

In order to determine the cellular and tissue distribution of IL-17R mRNA, poly (A)+ RNA derived from various murine cell lines or tissues was examined by Northern blot analysis using the IL-17R cDNA as a probe. Filters containing poly(A)+ RNA (2 μg per lane) from various tissues were purchased from Clontech (Palo Alto, Calif.). Polyadenylated RNA from various cells or cell lines were isolated, fractionated (2 μg per lane) on a 1% agarose formaldehyde gel, blotted onto Hybond nylon membrane (Amersham). Filters were probed with an anti-sense RNA riboprobe corresponding to the coding region of IL-17R cDNA. Hybridization was performed at 63° C. followed by three washings in 0.2%×SSC, 0.1% SDS at 68° C. Blots were exposed for 8 to 48 hr at −70° C.

The IL-17R probe hybridized to a single species of mRNA of approximately 3.7 kb in all tissues. Among the tissues examined, strong hybridizing signals were observed in spleen and kidney. Moderate signals were observed in lung and liver, and weaker signals in brain, heart, skeletal muscle and testes. Similar size mRNAs were detected in the following cells and cell lines: fetal liver epithelial cells (D11), fibroblast (3T3), rat intestinal epithelial cells (1CE6), splenic B cells, muscle cells (BB4), mast cells (H7), triple negative thymus cells (TN), pre-B cells (70Z/3), T cell hybridoma (EL4); and T cell clones 7C2 and D10. All the cell lines tested were found to express IL-17R mRNA, suggesting a ubiquitous expression of IL-17R message.


This example describes construction of a construct to express a soluble IL-17R/Flag® protein referred to as IL-17R/Flag. IL-17R/Flag® contains a leader sequence, and the region of IL-17R from amino acid 1 to amino acid 322 (SEQ ID NO:1), and the octapeptide referred to as Flag® (SEQ ID NO:3). The construct is prepared essentially as described for other soluble constructs, by ligating a DNA fragment encoding amino acids 1 through 322 of SEQ ID NO: 1 (prepared as described in Example 4) into an appropriate expression vector which contains a suitable leader sequence. The resultant DNA construct is transfected into a suitable cell line such as the monkey kidney cell line CV-1/EBNA (ATCC CRL 10478). IL-17R/Flag® may be purified using a Flag® antibody affinity column, and analyzed for biological activity using any of the methods described herein.


This example describes construction of a IL-17R DNA construct to express a IL-17R/Fc fusion protein. A soluble form of IL-17R fused to the Fc region of human IgG1 was constructed in the mammalian expression vector pDC409 in the following way: A pair of oligonucleotide primers containing a sense sequence and an antisense sequence of IL-17R were synthesized. The sense primer contained a Sal I site at the 5′ end of the cDNA and antisense primer contained a Bg1 II site and contained the IL-17R truncated just before the transmembrane region and a stop codon. A 980 bp DNA fragment was amplified from IL-17R cDNA. The PCR product was cut with Sal I and Bg1 II and used in a three way ligation with a fragment carrying the human IgG1 region cut with Bg1 II and Not I into a plasmid (pDC409; see U.S. Ser. No. 08/235,397) previously cut with Sal I and Not I. The encoded insert contained the nucleotides encoding the amino acid sequence of residues 1 to 322 of IL-17R (SEQ ID NO:1). The sequence was confirmed by sequencing the whole region.

The IL-17R/Fc expression plasmids were transfected into CV-1/EBNA cells, and supernatants were collected for 1 week. The CTLA-8/Fc fusion proteins were purified on a protein A sepharose column (Pharmacia, Uppsala, Sweden) as described below. Protein concentration was determined by an enzyme-linked immunoadsorbent assay specific for the constant domain of human IgG1 and by BCA analysis (Pharmacia), and purity was confirmed by SDS-polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis analysis followed by silver stain of the gel.


This example describes purification of IL-17R fusion proteins. IL-17R/Fc fusion protein is purified by conventional methods using Protein A or Protein G chromatography. Approximately one liter of culture supernatant containing IL-17R/Fc fusion protein is purified by filtering mammalian cell supernatants (e.g., in a 0.45 m filter) and applying filtrate to a protein A/G antibody affinity column (Schleicher and Schuell, Keene, N.H.) at 4° C. at a flow rate of 80 ml/hr for a 1.5 cm×12.0 cm column. The column is washed with 0.5 M NaC1 in PBS until free protein is not detected in the wash buffer. Finally, the column is washed with PBS. Bound fusion protein is eluted from the column with 25 mM citrate buffer, pH 2.8, and brought to pH 7 with 500 mM Hepes buffer, pH 9.1.

A IL-17R fusion protein comprising Flag® may also be detected and/or purified using an antibody that binds Flag®, substantially as described in Hopp et al., Bio/Technology 6:1204 (1988). Biological activity is measured by inhibition of CTLA-8 activity in any biological assay which quantifies the co-stimulatory effect of CTLA-8, for example, as described in the Examples herein.


This example illustrates the preparation of monoclonal antibodies against IL-17R. Preparations of purified recombinant IL-17R, for example, or transfected cells expressing high levels of IL-17R, are employed to generate monoclonal antibodies against IL-17R using conventional techniques, such as those disclosed in U.S. Pat. No. 4,411,993. Such antibodies are likely to be useful in interfering with IL-17R binding to CTLA-8, as components of diagnostic or research assays for IL-17R, or in affinity purification of IL-17R.

To immunize rodents, IL-17R immunogen is emulsified in an adjuvant (such as complete or incomplete Freund's adjuvant, alum, or another adjuvant, such as Ribi adjuvant R700 (Ribi, Hamilton, Mont.), and injected in amounts ranging from 10-100 μg subcutaneously into a selected rodent, for example, BALB/c mice or Lewis rats. Ten days to three weeks days later, the immunized animals are boosted with additional immunogen and periodically boosted thereafter on a weekly, biweekly or every third week immunization schedule. Serum samples are periodically taken by retro-orbital bleeding or tail-tip excision for testing by dot-blot assay (antibody sandwich), ELISA (enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay), immunoprecipitation, or other suitable assays, including FACS analysis. Following detection of an appropriate antibody titer, positive animals are given an intravenous injection of antigen in saline. Three to four days later, the animals are sacrificed, splenocytes harvested, and fused to a murine myeloma cell line (e.g., NS1 or preferably Ag 8.653 [ATCC CRL 1580]). Hybridoma cell lines generated by this procedure are plated in multiple microtiter plates in a selective medium (for example, one containing hypoxanthine, aminopterin, and thymidine, or HAT) to inhibit proliferation of non-fused cells, myeloma-myeloma hybrids, and splenocyte-splenocyte hybrids.

Hybridoma clones thus generated can be screened by ELISA for reactivity with IL-17R, for example, by adaptations of the techniques disclosed by Engvall et al., Immunochem. 8:871 (1971) and in U.S. Pat. No. 4,703,004. A preferred screening technique is the antibody capture technique described by Beckman et al., J. Immunol. 144:4212 (1990). Positive clones are then injected into the peritoneal cavities of syngeneic rodents to produce ascites containing high concentrations (>1 mg/ml) of anti-IL-17R monoclonal antibody. The resulting monoclonal antibody can be purified by ammonium sulfate precipitation followed by gel exclusion chromatography. Alternatively, affinity chromatography based upon binding of antibody to protein A or protein G can also be used, as can affinity chromatography based upon binding to IL-17R protein.


This example illustrates the ability of IL-17R to inhibit the proliferative response of T cells to mitogens. Lymphoid organs were harvested aseptically and cell suspension was created. Splenic and lymph node T cells were isolated from the cell suspension. The purity of the resulting splenic T cell preparations was routinely >95% CD3+ and <1% sIgM+. Purified murine splenic T cells (2×105/well) were cultured with either 1% PHA or 1 μg/ml Con A, and a soluble IL-17R was titered into the assay. Proliferation was determined after 3 days with the addition of 1 μCi [3H]thymidine. Secretion of cytokines (Interleukin-2) was determined for murine T cells cultured for 24 hr with 1 μg/ml of Con A in the presence or absence of 10 μg/ml of IL-17R.Fc or in the presence of a control Fc protein. IL-2 production was measured by ELISA and results expressed as ng/ml IL-2 produced.

Soluble IL-17R/Fc significantly inhibited the mitogen-induced proliferation of purified murine splenic T cells in a dose dependent manner, while a control Fc had no effect on the murine T cell proliferation. Complete inhibition of mitogen induced proliferation was observed at a soluble IL-17R.Fc concentration of 10 μg/ml. Analysis of IL-2 production by splenic T cells activated with Con A in the presence or absence of IL-17R.Fc in the culture revealed that addition of IL-17R.Fc to the T-cell culture inhibited IL-2 production to levels 8-9-fold lower than those observed in cultures containing media alone or media plus a control Fc protein. Similar results were observed when purified human T cells were used.


This example presents the isolation of a DNA encoding human IL-17R by cross species hybridization. A human peripheral blood lymphocyte library was prepared and screened substantially as described in U.S. Ser. No. 08/249,189, using murine IL-17R DNA under moderately high stringency conditions. Several clones of varying length were obtained. Sequencing data indicated that the human IL-17R was approximately 76% identical to murine IL-17R at the nucleotide level. The nucleotide and predicted amino acid sequence of human IL-17R is shown in SEQ ID NOs:10 and 11. A plasmid (pGEMBL) containing DNA encoding the human IL-17 receptor (referred to as pGEMBL-HuIL-17R) in E. coli DH10, was deposited with the American Type Culture Collection, 12301 Parklawn Drive, Rockville, Md. 20852-1776, USA, on Jun. 5, 1995, under the conditions of the Budapest Treaty, and assigned accession number 69834.

The human IL-17R shared many features with the murine IL-17 R. Computer analysis indicated that the protein has an N-terminal signal peptide with a cleavage site between amino acid 27 and 28. The signal peptide is followed by a 293 amino acid extracellular domain, a 21 amino acid transmembrane domain, and a 525 amino acid cytoplasmic tail. Soluble IL-17R comprises the signal peptide and the extracellular domain (residues 1 to 320 of SEQ ID NO:1) or a fragment thereof. Alternatively, a different signal peptide can be substituted for the native signal peptide. A Type I Fc fusion protein (wherein DNA encoding the Fc region of an immunoglobulin molecule is fused to DNA encoding the IL-17R immediately before, and in place of, the DNA encoding the transmembrane region of the IL-17R) was prepared, substantially as described in Example 4. A soluble hIL-17R protein can be also expressed substantially as described in Example 3, or by any other method of preparing and expressing the extracellular domain of IL-1 7R or a fragment thereof..


This example presents the localization and fine mapping of the murine IL-17R gene. A panel of DNA samples from an interspecific cross that has been characterized for over 900 genetic markers throughout the genome was analyzed. The genetic markers included in this map span between 50 and 80 centi-Morgans on each mouse autosome and the X chromosome (Chr) (Saunders and Seldin, Genomics 8:524, 1990; Watson et al., Mammalian Genome 2:158, 1992).

Initially, DNA from the two parental mice [C3H/HeJ-gld and (C3H/HeJ-gld x Mus spretus) F1] were digested with various restriction endonucleases and hybridized with the IL-17R cDNA probe to determine restriction fragment length variants (RFLVs) to allow haplotype analyses. Informative Bgl1 RFLVs were detected: C3H/HeJ-gld, 10.0 kb; Mus spretus, 7.8 kb and 2.2 kb). In each of the backcross mice either the C3H/HeJ-gld parental band or all three bands (both Mus spretus bands and a half intensity C3H/HEJ-gld band) were observed indicating that a single locus was detected.

Comparison of the haplotype distribution of the IL-17R RFLVs indicated that this gene cosegregated in 111 of the 114 meiotic events examined with the Raf1 gene locus on mouse Chr 6. The best gene order (Bishop, Genet. Epidemiol. 2:349, 1985)±the standard deviation (Green, In Genetics and Probability in Animal Breeding Experiments. E. Green, ed.; Macmillan, New York, pp.77-113, 1981) was: (centromere) Raf1-2.6 cM ±1.5 cM—IL-17R-2.5 cM±1.5cM—Cd4.


This example demonstrates that soluble IL-17R suppresses rejection of organ grafts in vivo. Hearts from neonatal C57BL/6 (H-2b) mice (less than 24 hours old) were transplanted into the ear pinnae of adult BALB/c (H-2d) recipients substantially as described in U.S. Pat. No. 5,492,888, issued Feb. 20, 1996 (utilizing the method of Fulmer et al., Am. J Anat. 113:273, 1963, modified as described by Trager et al., Transplantation 47:587, 1989, and Van Buren et al., Transplant. Proc. 15:2967, 1983). Survival of the transplanted hearts was assessed by visually inspecting the grafts for pulsatile activity, as determined by examining the ear-heart grafts of anesthetized recipients under a dissecting microscope with soft reflected light beginning on day 5 or 6 post transplant. The time of graft rejection was defined as the day after transplantation on which contractile activity ceased.

In one set of experiments, neonatal hearts were removed, rinsed with sterile PBS to remove excess blood, and placed into prepared ear pinnae. Recipient mice were given either soluble murine IL-17R/Fc (100 μg in 200 μl; see Example 4 herein) or rat IgG as a control, i.p. on days 0 through 3 post transplantation. In a second set of experiments, the recipient mice were injected with IL-17R or human IgG on days 0, 1 and 2; the quantity and route of injection were as done previously. The results of these experiments are shown in Table 1.

Effects of Soluble Murine IL-17R (smuIL-17R) on Neovascularized
Heterotopic Cardiac Allograft Survival
TreatmentSurvivalMedian Survival
GroupTime (days)Time ± S.D.
Experiment 1rat IgG11, 14, 14, 1413 ± 1.5
smuIL-17R19, 19, 19, 2120 ± 1.0
Experiment 2human IgG13, 13, 13, 1514 ± 1.0
smuIL-17R20, 20, 20, 2020 ± 0.0

Table 1 shows that heart allografts survived approximately 13 days in individual control mice treated with rat IgG. When allograft recipients were given up to four daily injections of soluble IL-17R, graft survival was prolonged, with a median survival of 20, approximately seven days longer than the survival time of identical grafts in control mice. When a prolonged release of the IL-17R was obtained by encapsulating the soluble IL-17R in alginate beads, it was observed that a single administration of 100 μg soluble IL-17R prolonged graft survival in much the same manner as observed previously with soluble IL-17R in solution. These results demonstrate that soluble IL-17R suppresses rejection of grafted tissues.


This example demonstrates that DNA encoding soluble IL-17R will be useful in suppressing rejection of organ grafts in vivo. Hearts from neonatal C57BL/6 (H-2b) mice were transplanted into the ear pinnae of adult BALB/c (H-2d) recipients as described in Example 10 above, except that the hearts were injected with 15 μl of PBS containing either IL-17R/Fc-encoding DNA (pDC409-IL-17R; Example 4) or control DNA (empty pDC409) at a concentration of about 1 mg/ml, into a ventricle. A 30 gauge needle was used, and care was taken to minimize trauma to the heart. The transfected hearts were then transplanted into BALB/c recipients and graft survival determined as described previously. Results are presented below in Table 2.

Effects of Expression of Soluble Murine IL-17R by Cardiac Cells
on Neovascularized Heterotopic Cardiac Allograft Survival
TreatmentMedian Survival
GroupSurvival Time (days)Time ± S.D.
rat IgG13, 15, 15, 15, 1815 ± 1.8
smuIL-17R20, 25, 28, >60, >60ND*
*ND: Not done; median survival time could not be calculated since two mice still show pulsatile grafts more than two months after transplantation.

Table 2 shows that heart allografts survived approximately 15 days in individual control mice transplanted with hearts transfected with empty vector. When the transplanted hearts were transfected with DNA encoding soluble IL-17R, graft survival was prolonged. For three of the five mice in this group, grafts survived on average approximately 24 days, nine days longer than the survival time of identical grafts in control mice. The grafts given the other two mice were still puslatile (i.e., had not been rejected) more than 60 days post transplant., and had apparently been accepted by the recipients. These results demonstrate that transfecting tissues to be grafted with DNA encoding soluble IL-17R ameliorates rejection of those tissues by the recipient.