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J Biol Chem. 1995 Mar 31;270(13):7717-23.

Purification and characterization of a naturally occurring vascular endothelial growth factor.placenta growth factor heterodimer.

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Department of Biochemistry, Merck Research Laboratories, Rahway, New Jersey 07065, USA.


Vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) is a potent and selective mitogen for endothelial cells that is angiogenic in vivo and induced by hypoxia. A homologous protein, placenta growth factor (PlGF), is also reported to be mitogenic for endothelial cells in culture. The rat GS-9L glioma cell line produces not only VEGF homodimers but also PlGF homodimers and a novel heterodimer composed of VEGF and PlGF subunits. All three dimeric forms were purified to apparent homogeneity, and their structures and mitogenic activities were compared. VEGF.PlGF heterodimers are vascular endothelial cell mitogens nearly as potent as VEGF homodimers. Therefore, some of the biological activities attributed to VEGF homodimers might be mediated by VEGF.PlGF heterodimers. In contrast, pure PlGF homodimers are mitogenic for endothelial cells only at high, possibly non-physiologic concentrations; thus the biological relevance of their mitogenic activity for these cells is not obvious. However, the existence of not only homodimers but also heterodimers clearly extends the similarity between the VEGF/PlGF and the homologous platelet-derived growth factor systems.

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