Multiple molecular weight forms of basic fibroblast growth factor are developmentally regulated in the central nervous system

Suzanne Giordano, Larry Sherman, William Lyman, Richard Morrison

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    Basic fibroblast growth factor (bFGF) is a heparin-binding protein implicated in the differentiation, proliferation, and maintenance of cells in the central nervous system (CNS). It is not clear how bFGF achieves this multiplicity of effects. Multiple molecular weight forms of bFGF have recently been identified, however, and each form may have distinct activities during CNS development. We have examined the pattern of bFGF expression during CNS development using protein immunoblot and RNA blot analyses. RNA blot analysis detected a major bFGF transcript of 3.7 kb in embryonic and adult rat brain; however, this message decreased in abundance during development. Three bFGF protein forms were identified on immunoblots of adult rat brain extract with approximate molecular weights of 18, 21, and 22 kDa. Embryonic rat brain extracts also contained the 18- and 21-kDa bFGF protein forms, but lacked the 22-kDa form. Expression of the 22-kDa form was first detected in the neonate and then steadily increased to adult levels by 1 month of age. Immunoblots of adult human brain extracts also showed the presence of three bFGF protein forms with approximate molecular weights of 18, 22, and 24 kDa. In human second trimester fetal brain extracts, only the 18-kDa bFGF protein was detected. Comparison of bFGF proteins in developing rat spinal cord, cerebellum, and cortex demonstrated that distinct patterns of bFGF protein forms exist in different regions of the CNS. Therefore, the expression of individual bFGF protein forms is regulated in the CNS with regard to both developmental stage and location. These data support the idea that different forms of bFGF may be associated with specific developmental events during the maturation and organization of the nervous system.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)293-303
    Number of pages11
    JournalDevelopmental Biology
    Issue number2
    StatePublished - Aug 1992


    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Molecular Biology
    • Developmental Biology
    • Cell Biology

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