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Biochemistry. 1992 Sep 22;31(37):9016-24.

Nature of the interaction of growth factors with suramin.

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Department of Pharmaceutical Research, Merck Research Laboratories, West Point, Pennsylvania 19486.


Suramin inhibits the binding of a variety of growth factors to their cell surface receptors. The direct interaction of suramin with acidic fibroblast growth factor has been detected by the enhancement of the drug's fluorescence in the presence of the protein with the maximum effect occurring at a molar ratio of suramin to aFGF of 2:1. This interaction stabilizes aFGF to thermal denaturation and partially protects a free thiol in its polyanion binding site from oxidation. The binding of suramin to aFGF also induces aggregation of the growth factor to at least a hexameric state as detected by static and dynamic light scattering as well as by gel filtration studies. Both CD and amide I' FTIR spectra of aFGF in the presence and absence of suramin suggest that the drug may also be causing a small conformational change in the growth factor. Suramin produces an even greater aggregation of bFGF and PDGF but not of EGF or IGF-1. Evidence for a suramin-induced conformational change in IGF-1 but not EGF is found by CD, however. It is concluded that suramin binds to many growth factors and that this induces microaggregation and, in some cases, conformational changes. In the case of aFGF, suramin interacts at or near its heparin binding site. The relationship between these phenomena and the anti-growth factor activity of suramin remains to be clearly elucidated.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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