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Am J Pathol. 2000 Apr;156(4):1253-61.

The Fn14 immediate-early response gene is induced during liver regeneration and highly expressed in both human and murine hepatocellular carcinomas.

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Department of Vascular Biology, Holland Laboratory, American Red Cross, Rockville, Maryland 20855, USA.


Polypeptide growth factors stimulate mammalian cell proliferation by binding to specific cell surface receptors. This interaction triggers numerous biochemical responses including the activation of protein phosphorylation cascades and the enhanced expression of specific genes. We have identified several fibroblast growth factor (FGF)-inducible genes in murine NIH 3T3 cells and recently reported that one of them, the FGF-inducible 14 (Fn14) immediate-early response gene, is predicted to encode a novel, cell surface-localized type Ia transmembrane protein. Here, we report that the human Fn14 homolog is located on chromosome 16p13.3 and encodes a 129-amino acid protein with approximately 82% sequence identity to the murine protein. The human Fn14 gene, like the murine Fn14 gene, is expressed at elevated levels after FGF, calf serum or phorbol ester treatment of fibroblasts in vitro and is expressed at relatively high levels in heart and kidney in vivo. We also report that the human Fn14 gene is expressed at relatively low levels in normal liver tissue but at high levels in liver cancer cell lines and in hepatocellular carcinoma specimens. Furthermore, the murine Fn14 gene is rapidly induced during liver regeneration in vivo and is expressed at high levels in the hepatocellular carcinoma nodules that develop in the c-myc/transforming growth factor-alpha-driven and the hepatitis B virus X protein-driven transgenic mouse models of hepatocarcinogenesis. These results indicate that Fn14 may play a role in hepatocyte growth control and liver neoplasia.

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