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Biochem Biophys Res Commun. 2005 Jul 29;333(2):316-27.

Mechanisms and significance of bifunctional NK4 in cancer treatment.

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Division of Molecular Regenerative Medicine, Osaka University Graduate School of Medicine, Suita, Osaka 565-0871, Japan.


Based on the background that hepatocyte growth factor (HGF) and c-Met/HGF receptor tyrosine kinase play a definite role in tumor invasion and metastasis, NK4, four-kringles containing intramolecular fragment of HGF, was isolated as a competitive antagonist for the HGF-c-Met system. Independent of its HGF-antagonist action, NK4 inhibited angiogenesis induced by vascular endothelial cell growth factor and basic fibroblast growth factor, as well as HGF, indicating that NK4 is a bifunctional molecule that acts as an HGF-antagonist and angiogenesis inhibitor. Interestingly, kringle domains in distinct types of proteins, e.g., plasminogen, prothrombin, plasminogen activators, apolipoprotein(a), and HGF, share angioinhibitory actions. In experimental models of distinct types of cancers, NK4 protein administration or NK4 gene therapy inhibited tumor invasion, metastasis, and angiogenesis-dependent tumor growth. Cancer treatment with NK4 may prove to suppress malignant tumors to be 'static' in both tumor growth and spreading, as based on biological characteristics of malignant tumors.

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