Purification of recombinant human fibroblast growth factor 13 in E. coli and its molecular mechanism of mitogenesis

  • Haipeng Lin
  • Panyu Lu
  • Mi Zhou
  • Fenfang Wu
  • Lei Weng
  • Kuikui Meng
  • Dan Yang
  • Shijun Li
  • Chao JiangEmail author
  • Haishan TianEmail author
Biotechnological products and process engineering


Fibroblast growth factor (FGF) 13, a member of the FGF11 subfamily, is a kind of intracrine protein similar to other family members including FGF11, FGF12, and FGF14. Unlike classical FGF, FGF13 exerts its bioactivities independent of fibroblast growth factor receptors (FGFRs). However, the effect of exogenous administration of FGF13 still remains further investigated. In the present study, we established an Escherichia coli expression system for the large-scale production of FGF13 and then obtained two isoform proteins including recombinant human FGF13A (rhFGF13A) and rhFGF13B with a purity greater than 90% by column chromatography, respectively. Otherwise, soluble analysis indicated that both rhFGF13A and rhFGF13B expressed in E. coli BL21 (DE3) pLysS were soluble. Furthermore, cellular-based experiments demonstrated that rhFGF13A, rather than rhFGF13B, could promote the proliferation of NIH3T3 cells in the presence of heparin. Mechanistically, the mitogenic effect of FGF13 was mediated by activation of mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK)/extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK), but not p38. Moreover, blockage of FGFRs also significantly attenuated the mitogenic effects of rhFGF13A, implying that FGFRs are still related to FGF13. Thus, our research shows that exogenous FGF13 can act as secreted FGF to participate in cell signal transmission and heparin is still required as an ancillary cofactor for the mitogenic effects of FGF13, which may help people to discover more potential functions of FGF13 in cell life activities.


rhFGF13 Protein purification Mitogen activity Heparin NIH3T3 cell Cell signaling pathway 



This work was supported by the Opening Project of Zhejiang Provincial TOP Key Discipline of Pharmaceutical Sciences (No.201720).

Compliance with ethical standards

This article does not contain any studies with animals or human participants. All authors confirm that ethical principles have been followed in the experiments.

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Pharmaceutical ScienceWenzhou Medical UniversityWenzhouChina
  2. 2.Biomedicine Collaborative Innovation CenterWenzhou UniversityWenzhouChina

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