Heparin or heparin-like heparan sulfate proteoglycans are obligatory for activity of the heparin-binding fibroblast growth factor (FGF) family. Heparin interacts independently of FGF ligand with a specific sequence (K18K) in one of the immunoglobulin-like loops in the extracellular domain of the FGF receptor tyrosine kinase transmembrane glycoprotein. A synthetic peptide corresponding to K18K inhibited heparin and heparin-dependent FGF binding to the receptor. K18K and an antibody to K18K were antagonists of FGF-stimulated cell growth. Point mutations of lysine residues in the K1i8K sequence abrogated both heparin- and ligand-binding activities of the receptor kinase. The results indicate that the FGF receptor is a ternary complex of heparan sulfate proteoglycan, tyrosine kinase transmembrane glycoprotein, and ligand.
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