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EMBO J. 1990 May;9(5):1569-75.

The proto-oncogene int-1 encodes a secreted protein associated with the extracellular matrix.

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Department of Cell Biology, Cornell University Medical College, New York, NY 10021.


The proto-oncogene int-1 plays an important role in mammary tumorigenesis when activated by proviral insertions of the mouse mammary tumor virus. In normal mouse tissues the gene is expressed in the embryonic neural tube, suggesting a developmental function, while in Drosophila the homolog of int-1 is the segment polarity gene wingless. In order to study the protein products of int-1 we have derived fibroblast cell lines infected with multiple copies of a retroviral vector expressing int-1 cDNA. By Western blot analysis and immunoprecipitation we have identified a 44 kd form of int-1 protein which is secreted from these cells. The 44 kd species is distinct from the major intracellular forms of int-1 protein as judged by its slower mobility in SDS-polyacrylamide gels and by its longer half-life in pulse-chase experiments. Under normal growth conditions, little or none of the 44 kd protein is detectable in the cell culture medium but instead the majority is found associated with the extracellular matrix (ECM). The protein appears to bind heparin in vitro, suggesting that it might bind glycosaminoglycans in the ECM. These data support the view that int-1 protein may play a role in cell-cell communication over short distances.

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