Fibroblast growth factors

FGFs constitute a family of about 20 proteins (numbered consecutively FGF-1 to FGF-20). Typically, they display a molecular mass in the region of 18-28 kDa and induce a range of mitogenic, chemotactic and angiogenic responses. Classification as an FGF is based upon structural similarity. All display a 140 amino acid central core that is highly homologous between all family members. All FGFs also tightly bind heparin and heparin-like glycosaminoglycans found in the extracellular matrix. This property has been used to purify several such FGFs via heparin affinity chromatography. Although many of the original members of this family stimulate the growth/development of fibroblasts (hence the name), several newer members have little/no effect upon fibroblasts. Keratinocyte growth factor (FGF-7) is thus far the only member of the FGF family to have gained approval for general medical use (Box 10.3).

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