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Int Rev Cytol. 1999;185:45-106.

Fibroblast growth factors as multifunctional signaling factors.

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  • 1Anatomy Department, University of Wisconsin, Madison 53706, USA.


The fibroblast growth factor (FGF) family consists of at least 15 structurally related polypeptide growth factors. Their expression is controlled at the levels of transcription, mRNA stability, and translation. The bioavailability of FGFs is further modulated by posttranslational processing and regulated protein trafficking. FGFs bind to receptor tyrosine kinases (FGFRs), heparan sulfate proteoglycans (HSPG), and a cysteine-rich FGF receptor (CFR). FGFRs are required for most biological activities of FGFs. HSPGs alter FGF-FGFR interactions and CFR participates in FGF intracellular transport. FGF signaling pathways are intricate and are intertwined with insulin-like growth factor, transforming growth factor-beta, bone morphogenetic protein, and vertebrate homologs of Drosophila wingless activated pathways. FGFs are major regulators of embryonic development: They influence the formation of the primary body axis, neural axis, limbs, and other structures. The activities of FGFs depend on their coordination of fundamental cellular functions, such as survival, replication, differentiation, adhesion, and motility, through effects on gene expression and the cytoskeleton.

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