Expression of the met-receptor and its ligand, HGF-SF during mouse embryogenesis

EXS. 1993;65:381-94.


We have determined the expression patterns of the met proto-oncogene and the gene which encodes its ligand, scatter factor/hepatocyte growth factor (HGF-SF), during mouse embryogenesis. A recurring pattern of expression was found in a variety of different organs: expression of met in specific epithelial cells, and transcripts for the HGF-SF gene in mesenchymal cells in close vicinity. Exchange of signals between mesenchymal and epithelial cell compartments are important in morphogenesis and differentiation of a variety of embryonal organs, although their molecular basis has not been elucidated. The observed expression of met and HGF-SF during development suggests that this receptor and its specific ligand might play a role in such processes. In addition to this distinct pattern, expression of met in certain epithelia and HGF-SF in the surrounding mesenchyme, we find met transcripts in neural, endothelial and muscle cells and transcripts for HGF-SF in neural and muscle tissue. In no instance did we observe both, transcripts for the receptor and the ligand, in the same cells. This suggests a paracrine mode of action for HGF-SF and its receptor during development. This exchange of signals might thus regulate a variety of processes, notably among them mesenchymal epithelial interactions.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Embryo, Mammalian
  • Embryonic and Fetal Development / physiology*
  • Epithelium / physiology
  • Gene Expression
  • Hepatocyte Growth Factor / genetics
  • Hepatocyte Growth Factor / physiology*
  • Kidney / embryology
  • Liver / embryology
  • Lung / embryology
  • Mesoderm / physiology
  • Mice
  • Muscles / embryology
  • Odontogenesis
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins / genetics
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins / physiology*
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-met
  • Receptors, Cell Surface / genetics
  • Receptors, Cell Surface / physiology*
  • Signal Transduction


  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins
  • Receptors, Cell Surface
  • Hepatocyte Growth Factor
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-met