Epidermal growth factor and transforming growth factor alpha regulate extracellular matrix production by embryonic mouse palatal mesenchymal cells cultured on a variety of substrata
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Mouse embryonic palatal mesenchymal (MEPM) cells were cultured either on plastic tissue culture dishes or on the surface of three-dimensional collagen gels or within collagen gel matrices in DMEM/F12 medium containing 2.5% donor calf serum. MEPM cells proliferated exponentially when cultured on collagen or on plastic. Cells cultured within collagen gels did not proliferate but remained viable. Addition of 10 ng/ml epidermal growth factor (EGF) or transforming growth factor alpha (TGFα) stimulated the proliferation of those cells cultured on plastic or on collagen but not those cultured within collagen gels. Immunocytochemical analysis revealed that MEPM cells synthesise collagen types I, III, IV, V, VI and IX; fibronectin, heparan sulphate proteoglycan, laminin and tenascin in vitro. These molecules are all present in the developing palate in vivo. EGF and TGFα produced a generalised stimulation of extracellular matrix (ECM) synthesis by MEPM cells in vitro. Biochemical analysis indicated that cells cultured within collagen gels had the highest intrinsic rate of protein synthesis. On all substrata neither EGF nor TGFα markedly altered the types of ECM molecules synthesised but rather caused a general increase in the total amount produced. This stimulation was most marked where the cells were cultured within collagen gels. The lack of stimulation of proliferation of MEPM cells cultured within collagen gels (i.e. in a physiologically-relevant environment) by EGF or TGFα together with the marked stimulation of ECM synthesis suggests that these factors may act as differentiation signals via their effects on ECM production.
Key wordsPalate development Epidermal growth factor Transforming growth factor alpha Extracellular matrix
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