Thymocyte growth peptide (TGP) promotes DNA synthesis of immature thymocytes. TGP has been purified from sheep, human and calf thymus and recently characterized as an N-terminally blocked nonapeptide. Evidence is presented here that the blocking moiety consists of a formylpteroyl group bound to the N-terminal glutamyl residue of the nonapeptide. The pterin part of the TGP molecule has a ribityl substituent in analogy with riboflavin, which explains the pronounced hydrophilic property of TGP in contrast to unsubstituted and unconjugated folates. The compound can be classified as a ribofolate peptide, a novel class of growth factor. Zn2+ counteracts degradation of the molecule and is required for full biological activity; mass spectrometric data confirm that native TGP contains zinc.

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