TGF-β Superfamily Receptors

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TGF-β Superfamily Receptors

The cell surface receptors of TGF beta (TGF-β) superfamily are classified into either type I receptors, type II receptors and co-receptors.

In mammals, there are seven type I TGF-β superfamily receptors and they are named activing receptor like kinases (ALK) 1-7 in TGF-β superfamily. The ALKs’ molecular weights are approximately 55 kD. They are serine/threonine kinases with relatively short extracellular domains. A 30 amino acid domain formed the GS domain of cytoplasmic domain of the type I receptors. The type I receptors are activated through phosphorylation of the GS domain by the TGF-β superfamily type II receptors. The kinase domain which phosphorylates its substrates on serine is in downstream of the GS domain.

There are five type II receptors in the TGF-β superfamily, including BMP type II receptor (BMPRII), Activin type II receptor (ActRII), Activin type II receptor B (ActRIIB), the TGF-β type II receptor (TβRII), and anti-Müllerian hormone receptor (AMHR). These receptors are approximately 70 kDa. They are serine/threonine kinases with short extracellular domains, too. They autophosphorylate and phosphorylate the type I receptors on serines and threonines as above described. There are two serines in the regulatory region of the type II receptors promoting or inhibiting the activity of the type II receptors by phosphorylation.

In the TGF-β superfamily, there are also co-receptors, including the type III TGF-β receptor (TβRIII), DRAGON (RGMb), RGMa, endoglin and hemojuvelin/HFE2 (RGMc).


The TGF-β superfamily transmembrane receptors, ligands, and Smads.

Type I Receptors


Receptor Smads


TGF-β1, TGF-β3, BMP-9, Activin A

Smads 1/5/8


Activin A, MIS, BMP-7, BMP-6

Smads 1/5/8


BMP-2, BMP-4, BMP-6, BMP-7

Smads 1/5/8


Activin A, GDF-1, GDF-11, Nodal

Smads 2/3


TGF- β1, TGF- β2, TGF- β3

Smads 2/3


BMP-2, BMP-4, BMP-6, BMP-7, GDF-5, GDF-6, GDF-9b, MIS

Smads 1/5/8



Smads 2/3

Type II Receptors



TGF-β1, TGF-β2, TGF-β3

Activin RII

Activin A, BMP-2, BMP-6, BMP-7, GDF-1, GDF-5, GDF-8, GDF-9b, GDF-11, Inhibin A, Inhibin B

Activin RIIb

Activin A, BMP-2, BMP-6, BMP-7, GDF-5, GDF-8, GDF-11, Inhibin A, Inhibin B, Nodal


BMP-2, BMP-4, BMP-6, BMP-7, GDF-5, GDF-6, GDF-9b






TGF-β1, TGF-β2, TGF-β3, BMP-2, BMP-4, BMP-7, GDF-5


TGF-β1, TGF-β3, Activin A, BMP-2, BMP-7, BMP-9



BMP Modulator
GDNF Family Signaling Molecules
TGF-beta Family Modulators

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