Alternative neural crest cell fates are instructively promoted by TGFbeta superfamily members

Cell. 1996 May 3;85(3):331-43. doi: 10.1016/s0092-8674(00)81112-5.


How growth factors influence the fate of multipotent progenitor cells is not well understood. Most hematopoietic growth factors act selectively as survival factors, rather than instructively as lineage determination signals. In the neural crest, neuregulin instructively promotes gliogenesis, but how alternative fates are determined is unclear. We demonstrate that bone morphogenic protein 2 (BMP2) induces the basic-helix-loop-helix protein MASH1 and neurogenesis in neural crest stem cells. In vivo, MASH1+ cells are located near sites of BMP2 mRNA expression. Some smooth muscle differentiation is also observed in BMP2. A related factor, transforming growth factor beta1 (TGFbeta1), exclusively promotes smooth muscle differentiation. Like neuregulin, BMP2 and TGFbeta1 act instructively rather than selectively. The neural crest and hematopoietic systems may therefore utilize growth factors in different ways to generate cellular diversity.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Aorta / cytology
  • Aorta / innervation
  • Autonomic Pathways / cytology
  • Autonomic Pathways / embryology
  • Bone Morphogenetic Proteins
  • Cell Differentiation / drug effects
  • Cell Size / drug effects
  • Cell Size / physiology
  • Clone Cells / cytology
  • Clone Cells / drug effects
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Growth Substances / pharmacology
  • Muscle, Smooth, Vascular / cytology
  • Muscle, Smooth, Vascular / drug effects
  • Muscle, Smooth, Vascular / innervation
  • Neural Crest / cytology*
  • Neural Crest / drug effects
  • Proteins / pharmacology*
  • Rats
  • Recombinant Proteins / pharmacology
  • Signal Transduction / physiology
  • Stem Cells / drug effects
  • Transforming Growth Factor beta / pharmacology*


  • Bone Morphogenetic Proteins
  • Growth Substances
  • Proteins
  • Recombinant Proteins
  • Transforming Growth Factor beta