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Mol Cell Biol. 1993 Jul;13(7):4251-9.

Molecular cloning of a novel cytokine cDNA encoding the ninth member of the fibroblast growth factor family, which has a unique secretion property.

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Discovery Research Laboratories I, Discovery Research Division, Takeda Chemical Industries, Ltd., Osaka, Japan.


Glia-activating factor (GAF) is a novel heparin-binding growth factor purified from the culture supernatant of a human glioma cell line. It shows a spectrum of activity slightly different from those of other known growth factors. We have isolated the cDNA which encodes human GAF. A homology search revealed that GAF would be the ninth member of the FGF family, and we therefore call it FGF-9. The human FGF-9 cDNA cloned by using oligonucleotide probes encoded a polypeptide consisting of 208 amino acids. Sequence similarity to other members of the FGF family was estimated to be around 30%. Two cysteine residues and other consensus sequences in family members were also well conserved in the FGF-9 sequence. FGF-9 was found to have no typical signal sequence in its N terminus like those in acidic FGF and basic FGF. Acidic FGF and basic FGF are known not to be secreted from cells in a conventional manner. However, FGF-9 was found to be secreted from cells after synthesis despite its lack of a typical signal sequence. It could be detected exclusively in the culture medium of cDNA-transfected COS cells. The amino acid sequence of proteins purified from culture supernatant of the CHO cell line, which was cDNA transfected and selected as a high producer of FGF-9, showed that no peptides were cleaved from the N terminus except the initiation methionine. The rat FGF-9 cDNA was also cloned, and the structural analysis indicated that the PGF-9 gene is highly conserved. Expression of the FGF-9 gene could be detected in the brain and kidney of the adult rat. Restricted gene expression in organs and the unique secretion nature of the protein suggest that FGF-9 plays a physiological role which differs from those of well-characterized acidic FGF and basic FGF.

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