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Growth differentiation factor-3 (GDF3), also known as Vg-related gene 2 (Vgr-2) is protein that in humans is encoded by the GDF3 gene.[1] GDF3 belongs to the transforming growth factor beta (TGF-β) superfamily. It has high similarity to other TGF-β superfamily members including Vg1 (found in frogs) and GDF1.[1]

Tissue distribution

Expression of GDF3 occurs in ossifying bone during embryonic development and in the brain, thymus, spleen, bone marrow and adipose tissue of adults.[2][3]


GDF3 is a bi-functional protein that has some intrinsic activity and also modulate other TGF-β superfamily members, e.g. potentiates the activity of NODAL. It may also inhibit other TGF-β superfamily members (i.e. BMPs), thus regulating the balance between different modes of TGF-beta signaling.[4] It has been shown to negatively and positively control differentiation of embryonic stem cells in mice and humans.[5] This molecule plays a role in mesoderm and definitive endoderm formation during the pre-gastrulation stages of development.[2]


  1. 1.0 1.1 Caricasole AA, van Schaik RH, Zeinstra LM, Wierikx CD, van Gurp RJ, van den Pol M, Looijenga LH, Oosterhuis JW, Pera MF, Ward A, de Bruijn D, Kramer P, de Jong FH, van den Eijnden-van Raaij AJ (January 1998). "Human growth-differentiation factor 3 (hGDF3): developmental regulation in human teratocarcinoma cell lines and expression in primary testicular germ cell tumours". Oncogene. 16 (1): 95–103. doi:10.1038/sj.onc.1201515. PMID 9467948.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Chen C, Ware SM, Sato A, Houston-Hawkins DE, Habas R, Matzuk MM, Shen MM, Brown CW (January 2006). "The Vg1-related protein Gdf3 acts in a Nodal signaling pathway in the pre-gastrulation mouse embryo". Development. 133 (2): 319–29. doi:10.1242/dev.02210. PMID 16368929.
  3. Hexige S, Guo J, Ma L, Sun Y, Liu X, Ma L, Yan X, Li Z, Yu L (December 2005). "Expression pattern of growth/differentiation factor 3 in human and murine cerebral cortex, hippocampus as well as cerebellum". Neurosci. Lett. 389 (2): 83–7. doi:10.1016/j.neulet.2005.06.071. PMID 16126341.
  4. Levine A, Brivanlou A (2006). "GDF3 at the crossroads of TGF-beta signaling". Cell Cycle. 5 (10): 1069–73. doi:10.4161/cc.5.10.2771. PMID 16721050.
  5. Levine A, Brivanlou A (2006). "GDF3, a BMP inhibitor, regulates cell fate in stem cells and early embryos". Development. 133 (2): 209–16. doi:10.1242/dev.02192. PMID 16339188.

Further reading