The EGF-CFC gene family in vertebrate development

Trends Genet. 2000 Jul;16(7):303-9. doi: 10.1016/s0168-9525(00)02006-0.


EGF-CFC genes encode extracellular proteins that play key roles in intercellular signaling pathways during vertebrate embryogenesis. Mutations in zebrafish and mouse EGF-CFC genes lead to defects in germ-layer formation, anterior-posterior axis orientation and left-right axis specification. In addition, members of the EGF-CFC family have been implicated in carcinogenesis. Although formerly regarded as signaling molecules that are distant relatives of epidermal growth factor (EGF), recent findings indicate that EGF-CFC proteins act as essential cofactors for Nodal, a member of the transforming growth factor beta (TGF-beta) family. Here, we review molecular genetic evidence from mouse and zebrafish on biological and biochemical roles of the EGF-CFC family, and discuss differing models for EGF-CFC protein function.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Animals
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Developmental*
  • Growth Substances / chemistry
  • Growth Substances / genetics*
  • Growth Substances / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Intercellular Signaling Peptides and Proteins*
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Multigene Family*
  • Sequence Homology, Amino Acid
  • Vertebrates / embryology*


  • CFC1 protein, human
  • Growth Substances
  • Intercellular Signaling Peptides and Proteins