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FEBS Lett. 2001 Dec 14;509(3):395-8.

Transferrin binds insulin-like growth factors and affects binding properties of insulin-like growth factor binding protein-3.

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Children's Hospital-Biochemistry, University of Hamburg, Germany.


In the circulation, most of the insulin-like growth factors (IGFs) are bound to a ternary 150 kDa complex with IGF-binding protein (IGFBP)-3 and the acid labile subunit. In the current study, we identify transferrin (Tf) by mass spectrometry, and immunoprecipitation as a component of a major IGF-binding fraction separated from human plasma. IGF ligand blotting, cross-linkage experiments and surface plasmon resonance spectrometry have been used to demonstrate the capability of Tf to bind IGFs specifically. In combination with Tf, IGFBP-3 showed a 5-fold higher affinity for IGF-II than IGFBP-3 alone. The data suggest that Tf may play an important role in regulating IGF/IGFBP-3 functions.

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