Localization and functional role of hepatocyte growth factor (HGF) and its receptor c-met in the rat developing cerebral cortex

Woong Sun, Hiroshi Funakoshi, Toshikazu Nakamura

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53 Citations (Scopus)


Development of the cerebral cortex is a series of precisely timed proliferative, migratory, and maturational processes. Hepatocyte growth factor (HGF) is a pleiotrophic cytokine, which plays important roles in the organogenesis and regeneration of various tissues, both during development and in the adult, due to its mitogenic, motogenic and morphogenic activities. In the present study, we examined expression and functional roles of HGF and c-Met during development of the rat cerebral cortex. Quantitative competitive reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) revealed that expression levels of c-met and HGF mRNAs were increased in the cerebral cortex during late embryonic development and peaked at E18. Immunohistochemical analyses revealed that c-Met-immunoreactivity (IR) was localized to the preplate (PP), with weaker-IR in neuroepithelial layer (NE) at embryonic day 14 (E14). At E16, c-Met-IR was present in the cortical plate (CP) and the intermediate zone (IZ), with a weak presence in the ventricular zone (VZ). On the other hand, HGF-IR was present in NE and VZ at E14 and E16, respectively. HGF-IR appeared in cortical plate tissue from E16 onward. Double labeling immunofluorescent cytochemical studies revealed that c-Met-IR was localized both in TuJ-1-IR- and non-TuJ-1-IR-cells, purified from E18 cerebral cortex in vitro, suggesting the presence of c-Met-IR in postmitotic neurons as well as in neuroepithelial cells. c-Met-IR was strong in cell bodies and neurites shortly after in vitro culture, while at 7DIV c-Met-IR decreased in neurites and was evident in growth cones. HGF dose dependently supported neuronal survival in vitro under serum-deprived conditions. In a transwell culture chamber, HGF increased neuronal migration, and co-incubation with functional blocking antibody against HGF abrogated this motogenic effect of HGF. These lines of evidence suggest that HGF is involved in the development and maintenance of cortical neurons during differentiation, motogenesis, neuritogenesis and neuronal survival.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)36-48
Number of pages13
JournalMolecular Brain Research
Issue number1-2
Publication statusPublished - 2002 Jun 30
Externally publishedYes


  • Cerebral cortex
  • Development
  • Hepatocyte growth factor
  • Migration
  • Survival
  • c-Met

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience


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