The addition of exogenous hepatocyte growth factor (HGF)/scatter factor (SF) to MDCK epithelial cells results in fibroblastic morphology and cell motility. We generated HGF/SF producing MDCK cells by transfection with an expression plasmid containing human HGF/SF cDNA. Production of HGF/SF by these cells induced a change from an epithelial to a fibroblastic morphology and increased cell motility. In addition, the HGF/SF producing cells acquired efficient anchorage-independent growth in soft agar but did not form tumors in nude mice. The morphological change and the stimulation of the anchorage-independent growth were prevented by anti-HGF/SF antibody, suggesting that the factor is secreted and then exerts its effects through cell surface receptors.

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