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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1989 Feb;86(3):802-6.

Purification and characterization of a newly identified growth factor specific for epithelial cells.

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  • 1Laboratory of Cellular and Molecular Biology, National Cancer Institute, Bethesda, MD 20892.


A growth factor specific for epithelial cells was identified in conditioned medium of a human embryonic lung fibroblast cell line. The factor, provisionally termed keratinocyte growth factor (KGF) because of its predominant activity on this cell type, was purified to homogeneity by a combination of ultrafiltration, heparin-Sepharose affinity chromatography, and hydrophobic chromatography on a C4 reversed-phase HPLC column. KGF was both acid and heat labile and consisted of a single polypeptide chain of approximately 28 kDa. Purified KGF was a potent mitogen for epithelial cells, capable of stimulating DNA synthesis in quiescent BALB/MK epidermal keratinocytes by greater than 500-fold with activity detectable at 0.1 nM and maximal at 1.0 nM. Lack of mitogenic activity on either fibroblasts or endothelial cells indicated that KGF possessed a target cell specificity distinct from any previously characterized growth factor. Microsequencing revealed an amino-terminal sequence containing no significant homology to any known protein. The release of this growth factor by human embryonic fibroblasts raises the possibility that KGF may play a role in mesenchymal stimulation of normal epithelial cell proliferation.

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