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Hepatocyte growth factor, a versatile signal for developing neurons

Abstract

Here we summarize recent findings on the biology of hepatocyte growth factor (HGF, also known as scatter factor), focusing on its effects on developing neurons. HGF is both a chemoattractant and a survival factor for embryonic motor neurons. In addition, sensory and sympathetic neurons and their precursors respond to HGF with increased differentiation, survival and axonal outgrowth. The broad spectrum of HGF activities and its observed synergy with other neurotrophic factors suggest that the major role of HGF is to potentiate the response of developing neurons to specific signals.

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Figure 1: Summary of HGF effects on motor neurons, sensory neurons and sympathetic neurons.
Figure 2: Schematic representation of signaling pathways activated by HGF, and potential synergistic actions with CNTF and NGF.

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Acknowledgements

We are grateful to F. Helmbacher for assistance with figures, and to F. Helmbacher, R. Dono, G. Wilkinson, and K. Kullander for comments on the manuscript. F.M. is supported by a grant from the DFG (SFB 317). Our own work is in part supported by an EU Biotechnology network grant.

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Correspondence to Flavio Maina or Rüdiger Klein.

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Maina, F., Klein, R. Hepatocyte growth factor, a versatile signal for developing neurons. Nat Neurosci 2, 213–217 (1999). https://doi.org/10.1038/6310

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