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Cancer Surv. 1992;12:81-103.

Transforming growth factor-beta.

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  • 1Howard Hughes Medical Institute, New York, New York.


This chapter has described some of the most salient features of the biology of the TGF-beta s. The TGF-beta s are of great interest as growth inhibitors, regulators of cell phenotype and regulators of cell adhesion. The various TGF-beta isoforms are highly conserved and display a complex pattern of interactions with multiple membrane receptor components. Activation of these receptors leads to inhibition of epithelial cell proliferation by a mechanism that may involve proteins related to the growth suppressor, RB. TGF-beta receptors are also coupled to mechanisms that control expression of differentiation commitment genes and differentiated cell functions. TGF-beta can affect cell proliferation and differentiation through indirect mechanisms involving regulation of expression of cytokines, extracellular matrix molecules and their respective receptors. These responses strongly influence the growth and phenotype of an array of cell types. Excess or reduced TGF-beta activity may contribute to the pathogenesis of certain fibrotic disorders and certain hyperproliferative disorders including cancer, respectively.

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