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Abstract

Soluble growth factors play an important role in the coordination and integration of cell proliferation, differentiation, fate determination, and morphogenesis during development of multicellular organisms. Fibroblast growth factors (FGFs) are a large family of polypeptide growth factors that are present in organisms ranging from nematodes to humans. RNA alternative splicing of FGFs and their receptors further enhances the complexity of this ligand-receptor system. The mouse Fgf8 gene produces eight splice variants, which encode isoform proteins with different N-termini and distinct receptor-binding affinity and biological activity. In this article, we review the roles of Fgf8 in vertebrate development and summarize the recent findings on the in vivo function of different Fgf8 splice variants. We propose that multiple Fgf8 isoform proteins act in concert to regulate the overall function of Fgf8 and account for the diverse and essential role of Fgf8 during vertebrate development. J. Cell. Physiol. 226: 1722–1726, 2011. © 2010 Wiley-Liss, Inc.