The TGF-β Family in the Reproductive Tract

Cold Spring Harb Perspect Biol. 2017 Oct 3;9(10):a022251. doi: 10.1101/cshperspect.a022251.


The transforming growth factor β (TGF-β) family has a profound impact on the reproductive function of various organisms. In this review, we discuss how highly conserved members of the TGF-β family influence the reproductive function across several species. We briefly discuss how TGF-β-related proteins balance germ-cell proliferation and differentiation as well as dauer entry and exit in Caenorhabditis elegans. In Drosophila melanogaster, TGF-β-related proteins maintain germ stem-cell identity and eggshell patterning. We then provide an in-depth analysis of landmark studies performed using transgenic mouse models and discuss how these data have uncovered basic developmental aspects of male and female reproductive development. In particular, we discuss the roles of the various TGF-β family ligands and receptors in primordial germ-cell development, sexual differentiation, and gonadal cell development. We also discuss how mutant mouse studies showed the contribution of TGF-β family signaling to embryonic and postnatal testis and ovarian development. We conclude the review by describing data obtained from human studies, which highlight the importance of the TGF-β family in normal female reproductive function during pregnancy and in various gynecologic pathologies.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Drosophila melanogaster / metabolism
  • Female
  • Genitalia / physiology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Signal Transduction
  • Transforming Growth Factor beta / metabolism
  • Transforming Growth Factor beta / physiology*


  • Transforming Growth Factor beta