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Stem Cells. 1997;15(3):190-7.

TGF-beta latency: biological significance and mechanisms of activation.

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Department of Cell Biology, New York University Medical Center, New York 10016, USA.


Transforming growth factor (TGF-) beta is secreted as a latent complex in which the mature growth factor remains associated with its propeptide. In order to elicit a biological response, the cytokine must be released from the latent complex, a process termed latent TGF-beta activation or TGF-beta formation. Although latent TGF-beta activation is a critical step in the regulation of its activity, little is known about the molecular mechanisms that lead to the production of active TGF-beta. In this article, we present an overview of the data available on this topic, and we propose a tentative model for the mechanism of TGF-beta formation based upon the observations with different cell systems and on recent findings on the structure of the latent TGF-beta complex.

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