Insulin-like growth factor binding proteins: A proposed superfamily

V. Hwa, Y. Oh, R. G. Rosenfeld

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

54 Scopus citations


The conventional concept is that the insulin-like growth factor binding proteins (IGFBPs) are cysteine-rich proteins, with conserved N- and C- domains, that are capable of binding insulin-like growth factors (IGFs) with high affinity. This dogma was recently challenged by the discovery of a group of cysteine-rich proteins that share important structural similarities with the IGFBPs, but have demonstrably lower affinity for IGFs. It is therefore proposed that these IGFBP-related proteins (IGFBP-rPs) and the IGFBPs constitute an IGFBP superfamily. We speculate that the IGFBP superfamily is derived from an ancestral gene/protein that was critically involved in the regulation of cell growth and was capable of binding IGF peptides. Over the course of evolution, some members (IGFBPs) evolved into high-affinity IGF binders and others (IGFBP-rPs) into low-affinity IGF binders, thereby conferring on the IGFBP superfamily the ability to influence cell growth by both IGF-dependent and IGF-independent means.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)37-45
Number of pages9
JournalActa Paediatrica, International Journal of Paediatrics, Supplement
Issue number428
StatePublished - 1999
Externally publishedYes


  • Insulin-like growth factor binding protein
  • Insulin-like growth factor binding protein-related protein
  • Superfamily

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health


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