Interleukin-1β (IL-1β) mediates a wide range of immune and inflammatory responses. The active cytokine is generated by proteolytic cleavage of an inactive precursor. A complementary DNA encoding a protease that carries out this cleavage has been cloned. Recombinant expression in COS-7 cells enabled the cells to process precursor IL-1β to the mature form. Sequence analysis indicated that the enzyme itself may undergo proteolytic processing. The gene encoding the protease was mapped to chromosomal band 11q23, a site frequently involved in rearrangement in human cancers.
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