Transforming growth factor-β (TGF-β) and bone morphogenetic protein (BMP) cytokines participate in a multiplicity of ways in the regulation of numerous physiological and pathological processes. Their wide-ranging biological functions are controlled by several mechanisms, including regulation of transcription, complex formation among the signaling receptors (oligomerization) and with co-receptors, binding of the receptors to scaffolding proteins or their targeting to specific membrane domains. Here, we address the generation of TGF-β and BMP receptor homo- and hetero-oligomers and its roles as a mechanism capable of fast regulation of signaling by these crucial cytokines. We examine the available biochemical, biophysical and structural evidence for the ternary structure of these complexes, and the possible roles of homomeric and heteromeric receptor oligomers in signaling.
Copyright © 2012 Federation of European Biochemical Societies. Published by Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.