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J Appl Physiol (1985). 2008 Mar;104(3):579-87. Epub 2007 Nov 21.

Transforming growth factor-beta and myostatin signaling in skeletal muscle.

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Department of Neurology, Johns Hopkins Hospital, Baltimore, MD, USA.


The superfamily of transforming growth factor-beta (TGF-beta) cytokines has been shown to have profound effects on cellular proliferation, differentiation, and growth. Recently, there have been major advances in our understanding of the signaling pathway(s) conveying TGF-beta signals to the nucleus to ultimately control gene expression. One tissue that is potently influenced by TGF-beta superfamily signaling is skeletal muscle. Skeletal muscle ontogeny and postnatal physiology have proven to be exquisitely sensitive to the TGF-beta superfamily cytokine milieu in various animal systems from mice to humans. Recently, major strides have been made in understanding the role of TGF-beta and its closely related family member, myostatin, in these processes. In this overview, we will review recent advances in our understanding of the TGF-beta and myostatin signaling pathways and, in particular, focus on the implications of this signaling pathway for skeletal muscle development, physiology, and pathology.

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