The BMP Pathway and Its Inhibitors in the Skeleton

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Physiological Reviews


Biology | Cell and Developmental Biology


Bone morphogenetic proteins (BMPs) constitute the largest subdivision of the transforming growth factor-β family of ligands. BMPs exhibit widespread utility and pleiotropic, context-dependent effects, and the strength and duration of BMP pathway signaling is tightly regulated at numerous levels via mechanisms operating both inside and outside the cell. Defects in the BMP pathway or its regulation underlie multiple human diseases of different organ systems. Yet much remains to be discovered about the BMP pathway in its original context, i.e., the skeleton. In this review, we provide a comprehensive overview of the intricacies of the BMP pathway and its inhibitors in bone development, homeostasis, and disease. We frame the content of the review around major unanswered questions for which incomplete evidence is available. First, we consider the gene regulatory network downstream of BMP signaling in osteoblastogenesis. Next, we examine why some BMP ligands are more osteogenic than others and what factors limit BMP signaling during osteoblastogenesis. Then we consider whether specific BMP pathway components are required for normal skeletal development, and if the pathway exerts endogenous effects in the aging skeleton. Finally, we propose two major areas of need of future study by the field: greater resolution of the gene regulatory network downstream of BMP signaling in the skeleton, and an expanded repertoire of reagents to reliably and specifically inhibit individual BMP pathway components.


Copyright 2018 all authors


Lowery JW1, Rosen V1

1 Division of Biomedical Science, Marian University College of Osteopathic Medicine , Indianapolis, Indiana ; and Department of Developmental Biology, Harvard School of Dental Medicine , Boston, Massachusetts.