Structural studies of the TGF-βs and their receptors - Insights into evolution of the TGF-β superfamily

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132 Scopus citations


TGF-βs are small secreted signaling proteins that function as vital regulators of cellular growth and differentiation. They signal through a single pair of receptors, known as TβR-I and TβR-II, and are among the most recently evolved members of the signaling superfamily to which they belong. This review provides an overview of the TGF-β, BMP, and activin receptor complexes that have been determined over the past several years. These structures underscore the shared ancestry of the TGF-βs with the BMPs and activins, but also provide insight as to how the TGF-βs diverged from the BMPs and activins to bind and assemble their receptors in a distinct manner. These distinctive modes of receptor binding engender the TGF-βs with high specificity for their receptors and allow them to fulfill their essential functions in vivo without interference from the many other proteins of the superfamily.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1860-1870
Number of pages11
JournalFEBS Letters
Issue number14
StatePublished - Jul 4 2012


  • Evolution
  • Receptor complex
  • Signaling protein
  • Specificity
  • Structure
  • TGF-β

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biophysics
  • Structural Biology
  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Genetics
  • Cell Biology


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