Peptide Growth Factors and Their Receptors I

Volume 95 / 1 of the series Handbook of Experimental Pharmacology pp 17-36

Isolation and Characterization of Growth Factors

  • R. A. Bradshaw
  • , K. P. Cavanaugh

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Polypeptide growth factors represent a diverse group of hormone—like agents that affect a variety of cellular processes including metabolic regulation, cell division, extension of processes (and other morphological changes), and the maintenance of viability (James and Bradshaw 1984). They differ from their more classical counterparts in that they are often synthesized in a variety of cells and usually enjoy a spectrum of target tissues. They also often use non-systemic transport mechanisms. However, they are highly similar to (even indistinguishable from) other classic polypeptide hormones in the manner in which they interact with target tissues. These similarities include the obligatory requirement for cell surface receptors, the nature of the transmembrane signals generated and their effects on gene expression including the genes affected. Therefore, while it is convenient to consider this group of substances in a separate category (hence the retention of the term “polypeptide growth factor”), it is clear that they are an important part of the endocrine system.