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DR Brigstock

The CCN family comprises cysteine-rich 61 (CYR61/CCN1), connective tIssue growth factor (CTGF/CCN2), nephroblastoma overexpressed (NOV/CCN3), and Wnt-induced secreted proteins-1 (WISP-1/CCN4), -2 (WISP-2/CCN5) and -3 (WISP-3/CCN6). These proteins stimulate mitosis, adhesion, apoptosis, extracellular matrix production, growth arrest and migration of multiple cell types. Many of these activities probably occur through the ability of CCN proteins to bind and activate cell surface integrins. Accumulating evidence supports a role for these factors in endocrine pathways and endocrine-related processes. To illustrate the broad role played by the CCN family in basic and clinical endocrinology, this Article highlights the relationship between CCN proteins and hormone action, skeletal growth, placental angiogenesis, IGF-binding proteins and diabetes-induced fibrosis.

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DK Ball, AW Rachfal, SA Kemper, and DR Brigstock

Connective tissue growth factor (CTGF) is a 349-residue mosaic protein that contains four structural modules implicated in protein-protein interactions. To address the functionality of residues 247-349 (containing module 4 alone), this region of CTGF was produced as a maltose binding protein (MBP) fusion protein in E. coli. After removal of MBP, recombinant CTGF commenced at Glu(247), was of M(r) 10 000, was immunoreactive with anti-CTGF[247-260], bound strongly to heparin, and promoted dose-dependent adhesion of fibroblasts, myofibroblasts, endothelial cells, and epithelial cells. An 8 kDa presumptive C-terminally truncated form of CTGF commencing at Glu(247) also promoted cell adhesion. CTGF-mediated cell adhesion was abolished by heparin or EDTA. These data demonstrate the presence of heparin-binding and cell-adhesion motifs within the C-terminal 103 residues of CTGF and show that CTGF-mediated cell adhesion is heparin-and divalent cation-dependent. Thus, CTGF isoforms comprising essentially module 4 are intrinsically functional in the absence of the other constituent modules of CTGF.