Differential effects of hepatocyte growth factor isoforms on epithelial and endothelial tubulogenesis

Roberte Montesano, Jesus V. Soriano, Katherine M. Malinda, M. Lourdes Ponce, Anna Bafico, Hynda K. Kleinman, Donald P. Bottaro, Stuart A. Aaronson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

58 Scopus citations


Hepatocyte growth factor (HGF)/scatter factor (SF) is a pleiotropic cytokine that acts as a mitogen, motogen, and morphogen for a variety of cell types. HGF/NK1 and HGF/NK2 are two naturally occurring truncated variants of HGF/SF, which extend from the NH2 terminus through the first and second kringle domain, respectively. Although these variants have been reported to have agonistic or antagonistic activity relative to HGF/SF in assays of cell proliferation and motility, their potential morphogenic activity has not been investigated. To address this issue, we assessed the ability of HGF/NK1 and HGF/NK2 to induce tube formation by (a) MCF-10A mammary epithelial cells grown within collagen gels and (b) human umbilical vein endothelial (HUVE) cells grown on Matrigel. We found that HGF/NK1 stimulated tubulogenesis by both MCF-10A and HUVE cells, whereas HGF/NK2 did not stimulate tubulogenesis, but efficiently antagonized the morphogenic effect of full-length HGF/SF. HGF/NK1 and HGF/NK2 also had agonistic and antagonistic effects, respectively, on MCF-10A cell proliferation and HUVE cell migration. These results demonstrate that HGF/NK1, which only consists of the NH2-terminal hairpin and first kringle domain, is sufficient to activate the intracellular signaling pathways required to induce morphogenic responses in epithelial and endothelial cells. In contrast, HGF/NK2, which differs from HGF/NK1 by the presence of the second kringle domain, is devoid of intrinsic activity but opposes the effects of HGF/SF. The differential properties of the two HGF/SF isoforms provide a basis for the design of more potent HGF/SF agonists and antagonists.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)355-365
Number of pages11
JournalCell Growth and Differentiation
Issue number5
StatePublished - 1998


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