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University of Helsinki Institute of Biotechnology
Institute of Biotechnology
Osamu Shimmi Group

Group Leader
Osamu Shimmi
Tel: +358-50-4484634
E-mail: osamu -dot- shimmi
-at- helsinki -dot- fi

Institute of Biotechnology
Street address: Viikinkaari 1 (P.O.Box 65)
00014 University of Helsinki

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Dynamics of morphogenesis and cell-cell communication

The spatial and temporal cues of evolutionarily conserved signals are the keys for developmental processes among species. Since ablation of the signaling pathway causes a variety of developmental defects or diseases, it is important to address the mechanism of how the signaling activity is regulated. The bone morphogenetic proteins (BMPs), members of the transforming growth factor (TGF)-beta superfamily, are a family of highly conserved, secreted growth factors involved in metazoan developmental processes as diverse as cell proliferation, apoptosis, differentiation, cell-fate determination and morphogenesis.

In Drosophila, seven TGF-beta superfamily ligands have been identified and each of these has a counterpart in mammals. Three of these, decapentaplegic (dpp), screw (scw) and glass bottom boat (gbb) are within the BMP subgroup and have been implicated in regulating a diverse array of developmental events including oogenesis, dorsal-ventral (D-V) patterning of the early embryo, mid gut development, patterning and growth of imaginal tissues, wing vein formation, and synapse function at the neuro-muscular junction. Dpp appears to be a functional ortholog of vertebrate BMP2/4. Scw and Gbb are considered to be BMP5/6/7/8-type ligands. The fundamental signaling mechanism employed by BMPs during development is conserved between vertebrates and invertebrates. This functional conservation suggests that studies of TGF-beta signaling in Drosophila will have an impact on our understanding of TGF-beta signaling in mammals.