Bovine brain and pituitary fibroblast growth factors (FGF) have been compared with regard to their chemical and biological properties. Pituitary and one preparation of brain FGF (Prep A) contain a basic mitogenic activity, which migrates to the same position on electrophoresis in acid pH gels as detected by incorporation of [methyl-3H]-thymidine into BALB/c 3T3 cells. In contrast, another preparation of brain FGF (Prep B) contains two mitogens, one (20-30%) indistinguishable from the basic components in pituitary and brain (Prep A) FGF preparations and an acidic activity (70-80%), pl 5-6, that migrates more slowly on acid gels, corresponding to the acidic component of brain FGF described previously (Thomas, K. A., M. C. Riley, S. K. Lemmon, N. C. Baglan, and R. A. Bradshaw. 1980. J. Biol. Chem. 255:5517-5520.) In agreement with that report, none of the mitogens comigrates with fragments of myelin basic protein. Pituitary FGF was virtually inactive, brain (Prep A) FGF had a small amount of activity, and brain (Prep B) FGF was highly potent (50% maximal stimulation at 15-30 ng/ml) in stimulating the growth of human umbilical vein endothelial (HUVE) cells. The acidic component of brain FGF, which is much more unstable at pH 8.5 than the basic one, can be protected by reducing agents, whereas the basic constituent of brain FGF as well as pituitary FGF is unaffected by reducing conditions. Thus, brain FGF preparations may contain two distinct mitogenic activities, one that is acidic and contains HUVE cell activity, and a basic mitogen that is similar to and may be identical with pituitary FGF.

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