Fibroblast growth factors, Old kids on the new block

Xiaokun Li, Cong Wang, Jian Xiao, Wallace L. McKeehan, Fen Wang

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

68 Scopus citations


The fibroblast growth factors (FGFs) are a family of cell intrinsic regulatory peptides that control a broad spectrum of cellular activities. The family includes canonic FGFs that elicit their activities by activating the FGF receptor (FGFR) tyrosine kinase and non-canonic members that elicit their activities intracellularly and via FGFR-independent mechanisms. The FGF signaling axis is highly complex due to the existence of multiple isoforms of both ligands and receptors, as well as cofactors that include the chemically heterogeneous heparan sulfate (HS) cofactors, and in the case of endocrine FGFs, the Klotho coreceptors. Resident FGF signaling controls embryonic development, maintains tissue homeostasis, promotes wound healing and tissue regeneration, and regulates functions of multiple organs. However, ectopic or aberrant FGF signaling is a culprit for various diseases, including congenital birth defects, metabolic disorder, and cancer. The molecular mechanisms by which the specificity of FGF signaling is achieved remain incompletely understood. Since its application as a druggable target has been gradually recognized by pharmaceutical companies and translational researchers, understanding the determinants of FGF signaling specificity has become even more important in order to get into the position to selectively suppress a particular pathway without affecting others to minimize side effects.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)155-167
Number of pages13
JournalSeminars in Cell and Developmental Biology
StatePublished - May 1 2016


  • Clinical application of FGF
  • Fibroblast growth factor
  • Heparan sulfate
  • Klotho
  • Receptor tyrosine kinase

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental Biology
  • Cell Biology


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