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EMBO J. 1989 Oct;8(10):2933-41.

An 18-kd heparin-binding protein of developing brain that is distinct from fibroblast growth factors.

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Department of Medical Chemistry, University of Helsinki, Finland.


An 18-kd heparin-binding protein (p18) was isolated from perinatal rat brain. Although the protein closely resembles the fibroblast growth factors in its strong binding to heparin and in its apparent molecular mass, it has a distinct structure. This was concluded from the amino-terminal sequence analysis that identified a unique structure containing a cluster of lysine residues. Antipeptide antibodies were raised in rabbits according to the sequence analysis and affinity purified using a synthetic peptide. The antibodies were shown to bind specifically to p18, which was immunochemically distinct from the basic fibroblast growth factor. The antipeptide antibodies detected p18 in brain but not in liver, kidney, heart or skeletal muscle. The content of the protein was shown to undergo a remarkable developmental change corresponding to the time period of rapid sprouting of axons and dendrites in brain. The content of p18 was rapidly increased at the time of birth until the postnatal age of approximately 1 week, after which it was decreased to values less than 10% in young adults as compared to the content found in perinatal rats. p18 also enhanced neurite outgrowth in brain neurons in vitro. The protein was stained in neurons in cells dispersed from perinatal brain. The properties of p18 suggest that it has a role in the growth and maturation of brain.

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