Growth differentiation factor-3 (GDF3), also known as Vg-related gene 2 (Vgr-2) is protein
Proteins are biochemical compounds consisting of one or more polypeptides typically folded into a globular or fibrous form, facilitating a biological function. A polypeptide is a single linear polymer chain of amino acids bonded together by peptide bonds between the carboxyl and amino groups of...

 that in humans is encoded by the GDF3 gene
A gene is a molecular unit of heredity of a living organism. It is a name given to some stretches of DNA and RNA that code for a type of protein or for an RNA chain that has a function in the organism. Living beings depend on genes, as they specify all proteins and functional RNA chains...

. GDF3 belongs to the transforming growth factor beta (TGF-β) superfamily
Transforming growth factor beta superfamily
The transforming growth factor beta superfamily is a large family of structurally related cell regulatory proteins that was named after its first member, TGF-β1, originally described in 1983....

. It has high similarity to other TGF-β superfamily members including Vg1 (found in frogs) and GDF1
Growth differentiation factor-1 is a protein that in humans is encoded by the GDF1 gene.GDF1 belongs to the transforming growth factor beta superfamily that has a role in left-right patterning and mesoderm induction during embryonic development. It is found in the brain, spinal cord and peripheral...


Tissue distribution

Expression of GDF3 occurs in ossifying
Ossification is the process of laying down new bone material by cells called osteoblasts. It is synonymous with bone tissue formation...

Bones are rigid organs that constitute part of the endoskeleton of vertebrates. They support, and protect the various organs of the body, produce red and white blood cells and store minerals. Bone tissue is a type of dense connective tissue...

 during embryonic development and in the brain
The brain is the center of the nervous system in all vertebrate and most invertebrate animals—only a few primitive invertebrates such as sponges, jellyfish, sea squirts and starfishes do not have one. It is located in the head, usually close to primary sensory apparatus such as vision, hearing,...

, thymus
The thymus is a specialized organ of the immune system. The thymus produces and "educates" T-lymphocytes , which are critical cells of the adaptive immune system....

, spleen
The spleen is an organ found in virtually all vertebrate animals with important roles in regard to red blood cells and the immune system. In humans, it is located in the left upper quadrant of the abdomen. It removes old red blood cells and holds a reserve of blood in case of hemorrhagic shock...

, bone marrow
Bone marrow
Bone marrow is the flexible tissue found in the interior of bones. In humans, bone marrow in large bones produces new blood cells. On average, bone marrow constitutes 4% of the total body mass of humans; in adults weighing 65 kg , bone marrow accounts for approximately 2.6 kg...

 and adipose tissue
Adipose tissue
In histology, adipose tissue or body fat or fat depot or just fat is loose connective tissue composed of adipocytes. It is technically composed of roughly only 80% fat; fat in its solitary state exists in the liver and muscles. Adipose tissue is derived from lipoblasts...

 of adults.


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
Nodal is a protein that in humans is encoded by the NODAL gene. It is a member of the TGF beta superfamily. Like many other members of this superfamily, it is involved in cell differentiation...

. It may also inhibit other TGF-β superfamily members (i.e. BMP
Bone morphogenetic protein
Bone morphogenetic proteins are a group of growth factors also known as cytokines and as metabologens . Originally discovered by their ability to induce the formation of bone and cartilage, BMPs are now considered to constitute a group of pivotal morphogenetic signals, orchestrating tissue...

s), thus regulating the balance between different modes of TGF-beta signaling. It has been shown to negatively and positively control differentiation
Cellular differentiation
In developmental biology, cellular differentiation is the process by which a less specialized cell becomes a more specialized cell type. Differentiation occurs numerous times during the development of a multicellular organism as the organism changes from a simple zygote to a complex system of...

 of embryonic stem cell
Embryonic stem cell
Embryonic stem cells are pluripotent stem cells derived from the inner cell mass of the blastocyst, an early-stage embryo. Human embryos reach the blastocyst stage 4–5 days post fertilization, at which time they consist of 50–150 cells...

s in mice and humans. This molecule plays a role in mesoderm
In all bilaterian animals, the mesoderm is one of the three primary germ cell layers in the very early embryo. The other two layers are the ectoderm and endoderm , with the mesoderm as the middle layer between them.The mesoderm forms mesenchyme , mesothelium, non-epithelial blood corpuscles and...

 and definitive endoderm
Primitive streak
The primitive streak is a structure that forms during the early stages of avian, reptilian and mammalian embryonic development.-Introduction:...

 formation during the pre-gastrulation
Gastrulation is a phase early in the embryonic development of most animals, during which the single-layered blastula is reorganized into a trilaminar structure known as the gastrula. These three germ layers are known as the ectoderm, mesoderm, and endoderm.Gastrulation takes place after cleavage...

stages of development.
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