Mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) can differentiate into several lineages during development and also contribute to tissue homeostasis and regeneration, although the requirements for both may be distinct. MSC lineage commitment and progression in differentiation are regulated by members of the transforming growth factor-β (TGF-β) family. This review focuses on the roles of TGF-β family signaling in mesenchymal lineage commitment and differentiation into osteoblasts, chondrocytes, myoblasts, adipocytes, and tenocytes. We summarize the reported findings of cell culture studies, animal models, and interactions with other signaling pathways and highlight how aberrations in TGF-β family signaling can drive human disease by affecting mesenchymal differentiation.
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