Extracts of corn have been found to induce mitosis in human peripheral blood and mouse splenic lymphocytes. The present investigation was initiated to characterize the mitogenic components of corn. Various classes of proteins such as albumins, globulins, zeins, and glutelins were isolated from defatted corn meal. With the exception of corn zeins, all classes of corn proteins possessed mitogenic activity for murine spleen cells. Because of the extreme insolubility of corn glutelins the present investigation was carried out only with corn albumins and globulins. These two classes of proteins stimulated spleen lymphocytes from C3H/HeN, C3H/HeJ, and athymic nu/nu mice as well as nylon-wool fractionated mouse B lymphocytes. Both corn albumins and globulins consist of a complex mixture of proteins. By gel filtration on Sephadex G-100 a low-molecular-weight protein (MW 12,000), which possessed maximum mitogenic activity, has been isolated from corn albumins.
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