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Reproduction. 2007 May;133(5):847-53.

Nodal signalling and apoptosis.

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State Key Laboratory of Reproductive Biology, Institute of Zoology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, China.


Nodal, a member of the transforming growth factor beta family, was first cloned from a 7.5 day post-coitum mouse embryo cDNA library. Nodal exerts its biological effects by signalling through its types I and II serine/threonine kinase receptor complex and intracellular Smad proteins. The type II receptors for Nodal are Activin type II receptors ActRIIA and ActRIIB, whereas the putative type I receptors are Activin receptor like kinase (ALK) 4 and ALK7. The main Smad proteins involved in Nodal signalling are Smad2 and Smad3. Studies of Nodal in adult tissues indicate that it is pro-apoptotic in rat ovarian granulosa cells, human trophoblast cells and human ovarian epithelial cancer cells and is growth inhibitory in the latter two cell types. This review summarises the progress made on the functions of Nodal in the apoptosis of adult tissues, especially in the ovary and placenta.

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