Send to

Choose Destination
J Cell Physiol. 2006 Feb;206(2):386-93.

Ligand concentration is a driver of divergent signaling and pleiotropic cellular responses to FGF.

Author information

Division of Cell and Molecular Biology, Faculty of Life Sciences, Imperial College London, South Kensington Campus, London SW7 2AZ, United Kingdom.


Fibroblast growth factors (FGFs) are soluble ligands important for embryonic patterning, limb and brain development, and stem cell proliferation. They activate specific receptors (FGFR) to elicit changes in gene expression and cellular responses such as proliferation, differentiation, and survival, but the extent to which these pleiotropic responses are driven by FGF concentration gradients has not been systematically addressed. Here, we show that a single cell type exhibits divergent, even opposing, responses to a single FGF dependent on the exposure concentration, and that this is controlled by differential signaling with specific negative feedback inhibition. Low concentrations of FGF2 stimulate survival and differentiation but actively inhibit proliferation while intermediate concentrations stimulate proliferation in the presence of serum but apoptosis in its absence. Intriguingly, high concentrations reverse the proliferation and apoptosis effects, and mirror the low concentration effects: inhibition of proliferation and stimulation of survival and differentiation. By screening for activation of sampled signaling intermediates across the FGF2 concentration range in fibroblasts, we show that the peak in proliferation and apoptosis correlates with abrupt activation of FRS-2 and Erk that is specifically down-regulated by high concentrations of FGF2, a pattern that contrasts with an incremental increase in activation of p38 MAP kinase and the FGFR itself, across the FGF2 concentration range. Whilst proliferation stimulated by FGF2 was dependent on p38 MAP kinase, apoptosis stimulated by proliferative concentrations of FGF2 under serum-free conditions was, in contrast, dependent on Erk MAP kinase. These findings indicate that FGF exposure concentration precisely controls intracellular signaling and cellular responses to the growth factor, and have important implications for understanding how FGF gradients influence cell proliferation, survival, and differentiation during processes such as limb development.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Wiley
Loading ...
Support Center