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Biochem J. 2001 Oct 1;359(Pt 1):89-97.

Uptake and intracellular transport of the connective tissue growth factor: a potential mode of action.

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Cell and Molecular Biology Section, Division of Biomedical Sciences, Imperial College School of Medicine, Sir Alexander Fleming Building, Exhibition Road, South Kensington, London SW7 2AZ, UK.


Connective tissue growth factor (CTGF) is a secreted cysteine-rich protein now considered as an important effector molecule in both physiological and pathological processes. An increasing amount of evidence indicates that CTGF plays a key role in the pathogenesis of different fibrotic disorders including diabetic nephropathy. However, the molecular mechanisms by which CTGF exerts its effects are not known. Here we provide the first evidence for the existence of an intracellular transport pathway for the growth factor in human mesangial cells. Our results demonstrate that CTGF is internalized from the cell surface in endosomes and accumulates in a juxtanuclear organelle from which the growth factor is then translocated into the cytosol. In the cytosol CTGF is phosphorylated by protein kinase C and PMA treatment can enhance this phosphorylation. Phosphorylated CTGF may have an important role in the cytosol, but it is also translocated into the nucleus where it may directly affect transcription.

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