1. Institute of Genetics, Life Science College, Zhejiang University, 388 Yuhang Road, Hangzhou 310058, China
2. Genetics of Development and Disease Branch, 10/9N105, National Institute of Diabetes, Digestive and Kidney Diseases, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland, MD 20892, USA.
3. Department of Pathology, University of Alabama at Birmingham, SHEL 810, 1825 University Blvd, Birmingham AL, 35294-2182, USA.
Transforming growth factor-beta (TGF-β)/bone morphogenic protein (BMP) signaling is involved in a vast majority of cellular processes and is fundamentally important throughout life. TGF-β/BMPs have widely recognized roles in bone formation during mammalian development and exhibit versatile regulatory functions in the body. Signaling transduction by TGF-β/BMPs is specifically through both canonical Smad-dependent pathways (TGF-β/BMP ligands, receptors and Smads) and non-canonical Smad-independent signaling pathway (e.g. p38 mitogen-activated protein kinase pathway, MAPK). Following TGF-β/BMP induction, both the Smad and p38 MAPK pathways converge at the Runx2 gene to control mesenchymal precursor cell differentiation. The coordinated activity of Runx2 and TGF-β/BMP-activated Smads is critical for formation of the skeleton. Recent advances in molecular and genetic studies using gene targeting in mice enable a better understanding of TGF-β/BMP signaling in bone and in the signaling networks underlying osteoblast differentiation and bone formation. This review summarizes the recent advances in our understanding of TGF-β/BMP signaling in bone from studies of genetic mouse models and human diseases caused by the disruption of TGF-β/BMP signaling. This review also highlights the different modes of cross-talk between TGF-β/BMP signaling and the signaling pathways of MAPK, Wnt, Hedgehog, Notch, and FGF in osteoblast differentiation and bone formation.
Keywords: Osteoblasts, Bone, TGF signaling, BMP signaling, Smad, Runx2