Fibroblast growth factor (FGF) 9 was compared with FGF2 in its ability to influence proliferation, differentiation, terminal differentiation and apoptosis in a rat calvaria-derived cell line (RCJ 3.1C5.18) that spontaneously undergoes chondrocyte differentiation in vitro. Like FGF2, FGF9 promoted proliferation, but to a lesser extent. In contrast to FGF2, which blocked chondrocytic differentiation, FGF9 had no effect on differentiation but inhibited terminal differentiation. FGF9 also stimulated expression of the mitotic inhibitor p21 to a greater extent than FGF2. Neither ligand influenced apoptosis. The results indicate that FGF9 could account for many of the physiological responses attributed to FGF-receptor activation in the growth plate.

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