Over-expression of CUG- or AUG-initiated Forms of Basic Fibroblast Growth Factor in Cardiac Myocytes Results in Similar Effects on Mitosis and Protein Synthesis but Distinct Nuclear Morphologies
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Initiation of translation from alternate codons in the same mRNA results in multiple forms of basic fibroblast growth factor (bFGF). High molecular weight species of bFGF make use of leucine translation initiation sites located upstream of the methionine residue used to produce the 18 kiloDalton (kDa) form. Although the addition of exogenous 18 kDa bFGF is known to stimulate DNA synthesis and proliferation of several cell types including embryonic chicken cardiac myocytes, little is known about the role of high molecular weight forms of bFGF. We modified the rat bFGF cDNA to yield high (22/21.5 kDa) or low (18 kDa) molecular weight species of bFGF. Expression of 22/21.5 kDa or 18 kDa bFGF in transfected embryonic chicken ventricular myocyte cultures was confirmed by protein blotting. Expression of both high and low molecular weight species of bFGF was associated with (i) a three-fold increase in overall thymidine incorporation as well as cardiomyocyte labelling index (fraction of cardiomyocyte nuclei incorporating tritiated thymidine); (ii) a two- to three-fold increase in cell number; (iii) an eight-fold increase in protein synthesis; and (iv) a three-fold decrease in myosin accumulation. Subcellular localization of bFGF in the transfected myocyte cultures was also assessed by immunofluorescence microscopy. Over-expression of cDNAs yielding high molecular weight bFGF resulted in predominantly nuclear bFGF staining. By contrast, both cytoplasmic and nuclear staining were observed following over-expression of 18 kDa bFGF. Over-expression of 22/21.5 kDa bFGF was associated with the formation of multiple DNA-containing "clumps" resembling condensed chromatin in cardiac myocyte nuclei. These DNA "clumps" were not observed in cardiac myocyte cultures over-expressing 18 kDa bFGF. These data indicate that over-expression of high as well as low molecular weight forms of bFGF can stimulate cardiac myocyte proliferative potential and decrease myosin accumulation. However, these forms possess distinct subcellular localizations and can have different biological functions in the nucleus.
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