Uptake and intracellular transport of the connective tissue growth factor: a potential mode of action

Biochem J. 2001 Oct 1;359(Pt 1):89-97. doi: 10.1042/0264-6021:3590089.


Connective tissue growth factor (CTGF) is a secreted cysteine-rich protein now considered as an important effector molecule in both physiological and pathological processes. An increasing amount of evidence indicates that CTGF plays a key role in the pathogenesis of different fibrotic disorders including diabetic nephropathy. However, the molecular mechanisms by which CTGF exerts its effects are not known. Here we provide the first evidence for the existence of an intracellular transport pathway for the growth factor in human mesangial cells. Our results demonstrate that CTGF is internalized from the cell surface in endosomes and accumulates in a juxtanuclear organelle from which the growth factor is then translocated into the cytosol. In the cytosol CTGF is phosphorylated by protein kinase C and PMA treatment can enhance this phosphorylation. Phosphorylated CTGF may have an important role in the cytosol, but it is also translocated into the nucleus where it may directly affect transcription.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Biological Transport
  • Blotting, Western
  • Carcinogens / pharmacology
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Connective Tissue Growth Factor
  • Endocytosis
  • Fluorescent Antibody Technique, Indirect
  • Glomerular Mesangium / cytology
  • Glomerular Mesangium / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Immediate-Early Proteins / metabolism*
  • Intercellular Signaling Peptides and Proteins / metabolism*
  • Phosphorylation
  • Precipitin Tests
  • Protein Kinase C / metabolism
  • Protein Transport
  • RNA, Messenger / metabolism
  • Subcellular Fractions
  • Tetradecanoylphorbol Acetate / pharmacology
  • Transfection
  • Transforming Growth Factor beta / metabolism


  • CCN2 protein, human
  • Carcinogens
  • Immediate-Early Proteins
  • Intercellular Signaling Peptides and Proteins
  • RNA, Messenger
  • Transforming Growth Factor beta
  • Connective Tissue Growth Factor
  • Protein Kinase C
  • Tetradecanoylphorbol Acetate