Send to

Choose Destination
See comment in PubMed Commons below
Genetics. 1999 Jun;152(2):783-95.

Molecular evolution of a developmental pathway: phylogenetic analyses of transforming growth factor-beta family ligands, receptors and Smad signal transducers.

Author information

Department of Biology, Arizona State University, Tempe, Arizona 85287-1501, USA.


Intercellular signaling by transforming growth factor-beta (TGF-beta) proteins coordinates developmental decisions in many organisms. A receptor complex and Smad signal transducers are required for proper responses to TGF-beta signals. We have taken a phylogenetic approach to understanding the developmental evolutionary history of TGF-beta signaling pathways. We were interested in detecting evolutionary influences among the physically interacting multigene families encoding TGF-beta ligands, receptors, and Smads. Our analyses included new ligands and Smads identified from genomic sequence as well as the newest published family members. From an evolutionary perspective we find that (1) TGF-beta pathways do not predate the divergence of animals, plants, and fungi; (2) ligands of the TGF-beta/activin subfamily likely originated after the divergence of nematodes and arthropods; (3) type I receptors from Caenorhabditis elegans are distinct from other receptors and may reflect an ancestral transitional state between type I and type II receptors; and (4) the Smad family appears to be evolving faster than, and independently of, ligands and receptors. From a developmental perspective we find (1) numerous phylogenetic associations not previously detected in each multigene family; (2) that there are unidentified pathway components that discriminate between type I and type II receptors; (3) that there are more Smads to be discovered in Drosophila and mammals; and (4) that the number of C-terminal serines is the best predictor of a Smad's role in TGF-beta signal transduction. We discuss these findings with respect to the coevolution of physically interacting genes.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article
PubMed Commons home

PubMed Commons

How to join PubMed Commons

    Supplemental Content

    Full text links

    Icon for HighWire Icon for PubMed Central
    Loading ...
    Support Center