Differential expression of the TGF-beta isoforms in embryogenesis suggests specific roles in developing and adult tissues

Mol Reprod Dev. 1992 Jun;32(2):91-8. doi: 10.1002/mrd.1080320203.


The TGF-beta's are multifunctional, pleiotropic molecules with major effects in control of cellular migration, cellular proliferation, and elaboration of extracellular matrix. Thus far, five distinct isoforms of TGF-beta have been described, each approximately 65-85% homologous and containing the characteristic 9 positionally conserved cysteine residues. Although the actions of the activated mature forms of the different isoforms on cells are qualitatively similar in most cases, there are a few examples of distinct activities. For example, TGF-beta's 1 and 3, but not TGF-beta 2, inhibit the growth of large vessel endothelial cells, and TGF-beta's 2 and 3, but not TGF-beta 1, inhibit the survival of cultured embryonic chick ciliary ganglionic neurons. In addition, selective targeting of the latent forms of the TGF-beta's is suggested by the observation that latent TGF-beta 2 is the prominent isoform found in body fluids such as amniotic fluid, breast milk, and the aqueous and vitreous humor of the eye; it is noteworthy in this regard that TGF-beta 2 is unique among various isoforms in that it lacks a RGD integrin-binding sequence in its precursor. The most dramatic differences in the TGF-beta isoforms are seen at the level of expression, where there is now a wealth of data demonstrating both spatially and temporally distinct expression of both the mRNAs and proteins in developing tissues, regenerating tissues, and in pathologic responses.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Embryo, Mammalian / metabolism
  • Gene Expression Regulation
  • Humans
  • Transforming Growth Factor beta / biosynthesis
  • Transforming Growth Factor beta / physiology*


  • Transforming Growth Factor beta