The 2'-5' oligoadenylate synthetases (OAS) represent a family of interferon (IFN)-induced proteins implicated in the antiviral action of IFN. When activated by double-stranded (ds) RNA, these proteins polymerize ATP into 2'-5' linked oligomers with the general formula pppA(2'p5'A)n, n ≥ 1. Three forms of human OAS have been described corresponding to proteins of 40/46, 69/71, and 100 kDa. These isoforms are encoded by three distinct genes clustered on chromosome 12 and exhibit differential constitutive and IFN-inducible expression. Here we describe the structural and functional analysis of the gene encoding the large form of human OAS. This gene has 16 exons with exon/ intron boundaries that are conserved among the different isoforms of the human OAS family, reflecting the evolutionary link among them. The promoter region of the p100 gene is composed of multiple features conferring direct inducibility not only by IFNs but also by TNF and all-trans retinoic acid. In contrast, the induction of the p100 promoter by dsRNA is indirect and requires IFN type I production. (C) 2000 Academic Press.