Bone morphogenetic protein 4
Bone morphogenetic protein 4, also known as BMP4, is a human gene.
The protein encoded by this gene is a member of the bone morphogenetic protein family which is part of the transforming growth factor-beta superfamily. The superfamily includes large families of growth and differentiation factors. Bone morphogenetic proteins were originally identified by an ability of demineralized bone extract to induce endochondral osteogenesis in vivo in an extraskeletal site. This particular family member plays an important role in the onset of endochondral bone formation in humans, and a reduction in expression has been associated with a variety of bone diseases, including the heritable disorder Fibrodysplasia Ossificans Progressiva. Alternative splicing in the 5' untranslated region of this gene has been described and three variants are described, all encoding an identical protein.
BMP4 is a polypeptide belonging to the TGF-β superfamily of proteins. It, like other bone morphogenetic proteins, is involved in bone and cartilage development, specifically tooth and limb development and fracture repair. It has been shown to be involved in muscle development, bone mineralization, and uteric bud development. BMP4 has also been implicated in Fibrodysplasia Ossificans Progressiva in which it is underexpressed.
In human embryonic development, BMP4 is a critical signaling molecule required for the early differentiation of the embryo and establishing of a dorsal-ventral axis. BMP4 is secreted from the dorsal portion of the notochord, and it acts in concert with sonic hedgehog (released from the ventral portion of the notochord) to establish a dorsal-ventral axis for the differentiation of later structures.
BMP4 stimulates differentiation of overlying ectodermal tissue. Inhibition of the BMP4 signal (by chordin, noggin, or follistatin) causes the ectoderm to differentiate into the neural plate. If these cells also receive signals from FGF, they will differentiate into the spinal cord; in the absence of FGF the cells become brain tissue.
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