TGF-beta signaling and its functional significance in regulating the fate of cranial neural crest cells

Crit Rev Oral Biol Med. 2003;14(2):78-88. doi: 10.1177/154411130301400202.


Members of the transforming growth factor-beta (TGF-beta) superfamily regulate cell proliferation, differentiation, and apoptosis, and control the development and maintenance of most tissues. TGF-beta signal is transmitted through the phosphorylation of Smad proteins by TGF-beta receptor serine/threonine kinase. During craniofacial development, TGF-beta may regulate the fate specification of cranial neural crest cells. These cells are multipotent progenitors and capable of producing diverse cell types upon differentiation. Here we summarize evidence that TGF-beta ligands and their signaling intermediates have significant roles in patterning and specification of cranial neural crest cells. The biological function of TGF-beta is carried out through the regulation of transcriptional factors during embryogenesis.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Body Patterning
  • Cell Differentiation
  • DNA-Binding Proteins / physiology
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Developmental
  • Homeodomain Proteins / physiology
  • Humans
  • MSX1 Transcription Factor
  • Maxillofacial Development*
  • Neural Crest / cytology*
  • Neural Crest / embryology*
  • Odontogenesis
  • Protein Serine-Threonine Kinases / metabolism
  • Receptors, Transforming Growth Factor beta / physiology
  • Second Messenger Systems
  • Smad Proteins
  • Trans-Activators / physiology
  • Transcription Factors / physiology
  • Transforming Growth Factor beta / physiology*


  • DNA-Binding Proteins
  • Homeodomain Proteins
  • MSX1 Transcription Factor
  • Receptors, Transforming Growth Factor beta
  • Smad Proteins
  • Trans-Activators
  • Transcription Factors
  • Transforming Growth Factor beta
  • Protein Serine-Threonine Kinases