Limitin: an interferon-like cytokine without myeloerythroid suppressive properties

J Mol Med (Berl). 2001 May;79(4):168-74. doi: 10.1007/s001090100206.


Limitin is an interferon (IFN)-like cytokine that we recently identified and cloned on the basis of its ability to arrest the growth or kill lympho-hematopoietic cells. This 182 amino acid protein has approximately 30% sequence identity with IFN-alpha, IFN-beta, and IFN-omega. Limitin binds to the IFN-alpha/beta receptors and induces IFN regulatory factor-1, thereby indicating that limitin constitutes a new prototype of the type I IFN family. As with previously known IFNs, limitin inhibited B lymphopoiesis in vivo as well as in vitro. In addition, limitin not only modified the proliferation and function of peripheral T lymphocytes, natural killer cells, and bone marrow stromal cells but also had antiviral activity. Therefore, limitin is a multifunctional cytokine with several potential cellular targets. Because to date we have found no influence of limitin on normal myeloid and erythroid progenitors, limitin is unique among the IFNs. Type I IFN family contains IFN-alpha, IFN-beta, IFN-omega, and IFN-tau, and IFN-alpha is composed of at least 14 subtypes. All IFNs have anti-proliferative, immunomodulatory, and antiviral effects and influence to each other in the body. Limitin should play a role in the complex IFN network, and its human homologue would be useful as a therapeutic agent if it lacked myelosuppressive activity.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cloning, Molecular
  • Cytokines / chemistry
  • Cytokines / classification
  • Cytokines / genetics
  • Cytokines / metabolism*
  • Erythropoiesis
  • Humans
  • Interferons / metabolism
  • Leukopoiesis
  • Phylogeny
  • Protein Isoforms
  • Receptors, Interferon / metabolism
  • Signal Transduction


  • Cytokines
  • Protein Isoforms
  • Receptors, Interferon
  • limitin
  • Interferons