HGF-Met signaling contributes to various biological events by controlling cell migration. Since the abnormal activation of Met receptor causes cancer progression, inhibitors such as neutralizing antibodies are regarded as promising therapeutics. HGF is secreted as a single-chain (sc) precursor and is processed by extracellular proteases to generate disulfide-bonded two-chain (tc) HGF. Although this proteolytic processing of HGF is necessary for its biological activity, exactly how the proteolysis leads to the conversion of HGF to the active form is still unclar due to the lack of structural information. In order to gain insights about this point, we generated 6 antibodies against HGF. All antibodies recognized different epitopes on the native HGF protein and showed distinct effects when tested in a cell-based HGF-Met signaling assay. They included one antibody (t1E4) that strongly blocks Met activation by tcHGF, as well as one antibody (t8E4) exclusively recognizing the active tcHGF but not inactive scHGF. Thus, a panel of anti-HGF antibodies suitable for probing the structural mechanism of HGF activation were obtained.
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