Growth factor proteins

What are growth factors?

Growth factors are proteins of low molecular weight involved in cell division, cell growth, cell survival and cell differentiation. These proteins may act on the cell that produces it (autocrine function), on the neighboring cell (paracrine action). They act on specific cell receptors located on the cell membrane which leads to alterations in gene expression. Growth factors can also promote or inhibit apoptosis (programmed cell death) and can stimulate cell differentiation. As such, they are essential to normal cell cycle and are thus vital elements in the life of animals from conception to death. These proteins mediate fetal development, play a role in maintenance and repair of tissues, stimulate production of blood cells & participate in cancerous processes. Examples for Growth Factors are EGF, FGF, NGF, PDGF, VEGF, IGF, GMCSF, GCSF, TGF, Erythropieitn, TPO, BMP, HGF, GDF, Neurotrophins, MSF, SGF, GDF and more.

Mechanism of action of growth factors

Growth factors are soluble signaling molecules that control cellular responses by binding to a specific receptor on the target cells. They are versatile molecules, stimulating cellular division in numerous different cell types, while others are specific to a particular cell-type. Most of growth factors act as ligands and binds with a high affinity to its transmembrane receptor. In most cases these interactions lead to tyrosine kinase activity inside the cell, however this is not always the case. Some growth factors can directly pass-through cell’s membrane and directly bind to intracellular protein receptors or act on nuclear receptors. Lipid-soluble steroid hormones such as estrogen, androgen and progesterone are a few of the growth hormones that act this way.

 

Applications of growth factors

Growth factors are often used in cell cultures to provide an ideal environment for cell growth and proliferation. From primary cells to transformed cell lines and hybridomas, the use of growth factors may be beneficial for their development. These proteins may include enzymes, antigens, hormones, cytokines etc. Selecting the right growth factors is an important task. Possible growth factors for cell culture may include:

FGF basic

Fibroblast Growth Factor basic, bFGF, FGF basic or FGF 2, belongs to a large family of proteins. They are involved in many aspects of cell development such as cell growth, cell proliferation and differentiation.

EGF

EGF, Epidermal Growth Factor, acts a potent mitogenic factor involved in the growth, proliferation and various epidermal and epithelial tissues in vivo and in vitro and of some fibroblasts in cell culture.

BDNF

Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor (BDNF) is a used in the maintenance of motor neurons and the differentiation of both cholinergic and dopaminergic neurons.

IL-2

Human Interleukin 2 (IL2) causes proliferation of T-cells and is a central regulator of immune responses. IL2 stimulates the growth and differentiation of B cells, natural killer (NK) cells, lymphocyte activated killer (LAK) cells, monocytes/macrophages and oligodendrocytes.

VEGF

Vascular Endothelial Cell Growth Factor (VEGF), is a part of the platelet-derived family of growth factors. VEGF is involved in endothelial cell proliferation, angiogenesis and vasculogenesis. VEGF has also been shown to be chemotactic for monocytes and osteoblasts.

GM-CSF

Granulocyte Macrophage Colony-Stimulating Factor (GM-CSF) is involved in many biological responses including the growth and development of granulocyte and macrophage progenitor cells, stimulation and the initiation of differentiation of myeloblasts and monoblasts, and chemotaxis of eosinophils.

Growth factors are commonly used in several research areas including Developmental Biology.

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