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Cell Tissue Res. 2009 Oct;338(1):67-77. doi: 10.1007/s00441-009-0824-8. Epub 2009 Aug 6.

Expression, mitogenic activity and regulation by growth hormone of growth hormone/insulin-like growth factor in Branchiostoma belcheri.

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Department of Marine Biology, Ocean University of China, 266003, P.R. China.


The growth hormone (GH)/insulin-like growth factor (IGF) axis is unique to all the vertebrate species but its evolutionary origin is ill-defined. We therefore cloned a cDNA encoding Branchiostoma belcheri IGF (BbIGF). BbIGF was expressed in a tissue-specific manner, with the most abundant expression in the hepatic caecum, the putative liver precursor. The recombinant BbIGF expressed in vitro showed mitogenic activity capable of stimulating cell proliferation in the flounder gill, a characteristic of vertebrate IGF. Quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction demonstrated that the recombinant rat GH was able to induce a significant up-regulation of BbIGF expression in the hepatic caecum. Moreover, Western blotting revealed the presence of a molecule similar to rat GH receptor in the hepatic caecum. These results suggest that BbIGF expression is inducible by exogenous mammalian GH, suggesting the presence of a GH/IGF axis in B. belcheri. The relationship between BbIFG expression and the origin of the vertebrate liver is discussed.

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