2′,5′-Oligoadenylate (2-5A) synthetase, which polymerizes adenosine triphosphate into 2-5A, is induced upon treatment of cells with interferon (IFN) and is thought to be involved in its antiviral and anticellular action. We report here that retinoic acid (RA) enhanced the level of this enzyme in two human transformed cell lines, WISH and Namalva. Like IFN, RA induced 2-5A synthetase activity in a time- and dose-dependent manner. Addition of anti IFN-α, -IFN-β, or -IFN-γ antibodies to the medium concomitantly with RA did not prevent such induction; therefore, the effect of RA is clearly not mediated through the induction and externalization of IFN. Pretreatment of cells with actinomycin D inhibited 2-5A synthetase induction by RA, suggesting that RA increased the transcription of the 2-5A synthetase gene. In WISH cells, the growth of encephalomyocarditis virus was inhibited by RA treatment, which is consistent with the hypothesis that 2-5A synthetase plays an important role in the antiviral action of IFN, at least in encephalomyocarditis virus replication. When the anticellular effects of IFN and RA were compared to their ability to induce 2-5A synthetase activity in four human cell lines, there was no strict correlation between the amplitude of the enzyme activity induced and the extent of the antiproliferative effect. It is concluded that the 2-5A system is probably not the only pathway responsible for the antiproliferative effect of both substances. We further suggest that the induction of 2-5A synthetase by IFN and RA might be connected with at least some of the similarities observed between other biological effects of both compounds.


Supported by grants from U 245 INSERM and E.R. 238 CNRS.

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