The human carcinoma line RPMI 2650 produces autocrine factors; they are detected by the ability of RPMI 2650 conditioned medium (CM) to stimulate growth in soft agar of RPMI 2650 cells plated at low density. The autocrine activity in crude CM can be fractionated by ultrafiltration into a lower molecular weight (MW) fraction (R1-30), which concentrates molecules in the 1000-30,000 Da range; and a higher MW fraction (R30) with molecules greater than 30,000 Da in a more concentrated form. R1-30 is labile to acid, base, and heat treatment, whereas R30 is stable to (and sometimes activated by) these treatments. Boiling of R30, however, renders it labile to acid, base, and trypsin treatments. CM can be separated into a weakly heparin-binding fraction (with stability properties similar, but not identical, to R1-30), and a non-heparin binding fraction (with stability properties similar to R30). RPMI 2650 cells secrete transforming growth factor (TGF)alpha- and TGF beta-like molecules, but the R1-30 fraction can be distinguished from these TGFs, and from most other known growth factors, by its unusual combination of acid lability and weak affinity for heparin. Since the R30/non-heparin binding fraction is rendered labile by boiling or acid treatment, it may represent a bound or conformationally stable form of a growth factor.
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