We have defined the expression of the mRNA for, and secretion of, IFN-beta 2/hepatocyte-stimulating factor/IL-6 (IFN-beta 2/IL-6) in human diploid fibroblasts (FS-4 strain) infected with different RNA- and DNA-containing viruses. RNA blot-hybridization analyses carried out 6-8 h after the beginning of infection showed that the RNA-containing Sendai virus (paramyxoviridae) enhanced IFN-beta 2/IL-6 mRNA levels 10-fold, followed, in decreasing order, by encephalomyocarditis (EMC, picornaviridae), vesicular stomatitis (VSV, rhabdoviridae), Newcastle disease virus (NDV, paramyxoviridae), and influenza A (Flu, myxoviridae) viruses. The DNA-containing pseudorabies virus (PR, herpesviridae) enhanced IFN-beta 2/IL-6 mRNA levels sixfold, while the effect of adenovirus type 5 (Ad5, adenoviridae) was considerably less and comparable with that of NDV or Flu. A rabbit antiserum raised against E. coli-derived human IFN-beta 2/IL-6 was used in immunoprecipitation experiments to monitor the secretion of 35S-methionine-pulse-labeled IFN-beta 2/IL-6 proteins by fibroblasts up to 7 h after the beginning of infection. Enhanced levels of secretion of IFN-beta 2/IL-6 (2-14-fold) were observed in every instance evaluated (Sendai, EMC, VSV, Flu, PR, Ad5 viruses). A biological consequence of enhanced secretion of IFN-beta 2/IL-6 was the ability of media from infected FS-4 cell cultures to enhance by 8-15-fold the synthesis and secretion of a typical acute phase plasma protein (alpha 1-antichymotrypsin) by human hepatoma Hep3B2 cells. These observations make it likely that IFN-beta 2/IL-6 mediates, in part, the host response to acute virus infections.

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