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Ciba Found Symp. 1997;212:183-91; discussion 192-7.

Biological aspects of macrophage-stimulating protein (MSP) and its receptor.

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Laboratory of Immunobiology, National Cancer Institute, Frederick, MD 21702, USA.


Macrophage-stimulating protein (MSP; also known as HGF-like protein [HGFl]) is a 78 kDa plasma protein that is secreted by the liver into the circulation as single-chain, biologically inactive pro-MSP. The presence of conserved triple disulfide loops (kringles) places pro-MSP in a family of coagulation system serine protease zymogens that are activated by proteolytic cleavage. Although pro-MSP has lost enzymic activity, it has retained the activation mechanism, in that proteolytic cleavage at a single site yields biologically active disulfide-linked alpha beta-chain heterodimeric MSP. The MSP receptor is a transmembrane protein tyrosine kinase. MSP causes phosphorylation of the receptor cytoplasmic domain, association of phosphatidylinositol (PI)-3 kinase with the receptor, and phosphorylation of receptor-bound PI-3 kinase. Inhibition of PI-3 kinase by wortmannin prevents MSP action on cells. MSP stimulates motility of murine resident peritoneal macrophages. However, it does not act on exudate macrophages or blood monocytes, since these earlier maturational stages of the lineage do not express the receptor. MSP also stimulates keratinocyte cell lines, causing either chemotactic responses or increased cell numbers in culture. We suggest that pro-MSP diffuses into local tissue sites, where proteolytic cleavage to MSP results in stimulation of keratinocytes and macrophages. It possibly plays a role in tissue injury or wound healing.

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