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Melanoma growth stimulatory activity (MGSA) is a mitogenic polypeptide secreted by Hs294T human melanoma cells. Comparison of the N-terminal sequences of the 13 and 16 kd MGSA species with the cDNA sequence revealed that the mature form of human MGSA is maximally 73 amino acids long. Expression of the cDNA in mammalian cells results in the secretion of this peptide with mitogenic activity. MGSA is structurally related to the platelet-derived beta-thromboglobulin and to several other polypeptides. These factors may constitute a family of growth factors. MGSA mRNA was detected in a variety of cell types. The level of MGSA mRNA in melanoma cells is strongly elevated by treatment with MGSA. MGSA is the gene product of a recently detected gene gro. The gene was mapped to chromosome 4 (region q13----q21). This same region also contains genes for two of the structurally related factors, for c-kit, a receptor for an as yet unidentified ligand, and for 'piebald trait', an inherited skin pigmentation disorder.