Developmental processes are regulated by the bone morphogenetic protein (BMP) family of secreted molecules. BMPs bind to serine/threonine kinase receptors and signal through the canonical Smad pathway and other intracellular effectors. Integral to the control of BMPs is a diverse group of secreted BMP antagonists that bind to BMPs and prevent engagement with their cognate receptors. Tight temporospatial regulation of both BMP and BMP-antagonist expression provides an exquisite control system for developing tissues. Additional facets of BMP-antagonist biology, such as crosstalk with Wnt and Sonic hedgehog signaling during development, have been revealed in recent years. In addition, previously unappreciated roles for the BMP antagonists in kidney fibrosis and cancer have been elucidated. This review provides a description of BMP-antagonist biology, together with highlights of recent novel insights into the role of these antagonists in development, signal transduction and human disease.
Crown Copyright 2010. Published by Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.