Because our main product, StemBeads FGF2, contains it, people regularly ask us, “What actually is Fibroblast Growth Factor?” In this post, we will attempt to answer that question and create a resource that can direct people to in the future on this topic.
Growth Factor (GF)
Let’s start with the second half of the name, growth factor (GF), as this is a bit more general and easier to explain. GFs are naturally occurring substances that stimulate cellular growth, division, and/or differentiation. Most of the time, GFs are proteins that are secreted from a cell and bind to receptors on other cells to bring about their effects. The term GF is sometimes used interchangeably with the term cytokine, which is a general term for a small signaling molecule. While GFs, a lot of the time, do exactly what the name implies—help cells grow and expand—certain GFs can do the exact opposite and stop cells from growing…we know, confusing, right? Now, let’s focus on Fibroblast Growth Factor, or FGF2.
Fibroblast Growth Factor (FGF)
Fibroblast Growth Factors actually make up a large family of growth and differentiation factors otherwise known as FGFs. In humans, there are 22 members of the FGF family which all share similar structures. Like most GFs, FGFs are secreted proteins that bind to a receptor to bring about their function. There are four different FGF receptors, FGFRs 1-4. For the case of this article, we will focus on FGF2, which binds FGFR1. When FGF2 binds FGFR1, the most common pathway activated is the mitogen-activated protein kinase pathway, otherwise known as the MAPK pathway.
How FGF2 Works
FGF2 plays key roles in development, probably due to its essential role in regulating the stem cell state. At the very early embryonic stages, we now know from culturing embryonic stem cells, FGF2 is essential for maintaining the stem cell state, although the mechanisms by which it does this are poorly defined. Some studies suggest it acts directly on certain genes involved in the stem cell state, while other studies suggest it works indirectly by helping make other stem cell pathways competent. Regardless of the mechanism, FGF2 is an essential component of stem cell culture medium and is needed for the long-term maintenance of stem cell cultures.
The photo above is from my recently published paper which focuses on FGF2.
What we recently found was that FGF2 is incredibly unstable in the culture medium due to its heat lability. This is important because when FGF2 levels drop, stem cells are prone to differentiate, as their signal is now lost. Think about it like a cell phone. Cell phones need a good signal in order to keep the call you are on. If that signal fades out, so does the call, and we end up talking to ourselves. Our product StemBeads FGF2 stabilizes FGF2 so that the signal does not fade, allowing for a constant signal to the stem cell. I don’t know about you, but I find dropped cell phone calls really annoying, and I can promise you that differentiated stem cell cultures are just as annoying. So while we can’t help you keep that cell phone call going in a tunnel or up on a mountain somewhere, we can help you keep your stem cells happy and undifferentiated with StemBeads.
We hope this answers your questions about Fibroblast Growth Factor.
If you enjoyed this post, please consider subscribing below to our monthly newsletter through which we provide stem cell scientists information on the most current research topics and tools to help them constantly improve their stem cell culture experience.
To Successful Research,
Information for scientists by scientists on all things related to stem cell growth including stem cell culture, culture medium, tissue culture, fibroblast growth factor (fgf2) and more.
Note: StemCultures facilitates posting on this blog, but the views and accounts expressed herein are those of the author(s) or interviewee(s) and not the views or accounts of StemCultures its officers or directors whose views and accounts may or may not be similar or identical. StemCultures, its officers and directors do not express any opinion regarding any product or service by virtue of reference to such product or service in this blog.