Activin Receptors: Receptors for ACTIVINS are membrane protein kinases belonging to the family of PROTEIN-SERINE-THREONINE KINASES, thus also named activin receptor-like kinases (ALK's). Activin receptors also bind TRANSFORMING GROWTH FACTOR BETA. As those transmembrane receptors of the TGF-beta superfamily (RECEPTORS, TRANSFORMING GROWTH FACTOR BETA), ALK's consist of two different but related protein kinases, Type I and Type II. Activins initiate cellular signal transduction by first binding to the type II receptors (ACTIVIN RECEPTORS, TYPE II ) which then recruit and phosphorylate the type I receptors (ACTIVIN RECEPTORS, TYPE I ) with subsequent activation of the type I kinase activity.Activin Receptors, Type II: One of the two types of ACTIVIN RECEPTORS. They are membrane protein kinases belonging to the family of PROTEIN-SERINE-THREONINE KINASES. The major type II activin receptors are ActR-IIA and ActR-IIB.Activins: Activins are produced in the pituitary, gonads, and other tissues. By acting locally, they stimulate pituitary FSH secretion and have diverse effects on cell differentiation and embryonic development. Activins are glycoproteins that are hetero- or homodimers of INHIBIN-BETA SUBUNITS.Activin Receptors, Type I: One of the two types of ACTIVIN RECEPTORS or activin receptor-like kinases (ALK'S). There are several type I activin receptors. The major active ones are ALK-2 (ActR-IA) and ALK-4 (ActR-IB).Inhibins: Glycoproteins that inhibit pituitary FOLLICLE STIMULATING HORMONE secretion. Inhibins are secreted by the Sertoli cells of the testes, the granulosa cells of the ovarian follicles, the placenta, and other tissues. Inhibins and ACTIVINS are modulators of FOLLICLE STIMULATING HORMONE secretions; both groups belong to the TGF-beta superfamily, as the TRANSFORMING GROWTH FACTOR BETA. Inhibins consist of a disulfide-linked heterodimer with a unique alpha linked to either a beta A or a beta B subunit to form inhibin A or inhibin B, respectivelyInhibin-beta Subunits: They are glycopeptides and subunits in INHIBINS and ACTIVINS. Inhibins and activins belong to the transforming growth factor beta superfamily.Follistatin: A broadly distributed protein that binds directly to ACTIVINS. It functions as an activin antagonist, inhibits FOLLICLE STIMULATING HORMONE secretion, regulates CELL DIFFERENTIATION, and plays an important role in embryogenesis. Follistatin is a single glycosylated polypeptide chain of approximately 37-kDa and is not a member of the inhibin family (INHIBINS). Follistatin also binds and neutralizes many members of the TRANSFORMING GROWTH FACTOR BETA family.Receptors, Growth Factor: Cell surface receptors that bind growth or trophic factors with high affinity, triggering intracellular responses which influence the growth, differentiation, or survival of cells.Myostatin: A growth differentiation factor that is a potent inhibitor of SKELETAL MUSCLE growth. It may play a role in the regulation of MYOGENESIS and in muscle maintenance during adulthood.Smad2 Protein: A receptor-regulated smad protein that undergoes PHOSPHORYLATION by ACTIVIN RECEPTORS, TYPE I. It regulates TRANSFORMING GROWTH FACTOR BETA and ACTIVIN signaling.Receptors, Transforming Growth Factor beta: Cell-surface proteins that bind transforming growth factor beta and trigger changes influencing the behavior of cells. Two types of transforming growth factor receptors have been recognized. They differ in affinity for different members of the transforming growth factor beta family and in cellular mechanisms of action.Transforming Growth Factor beta: A factor synthesized in a wide variety of tissues. It acts synergistically with TGF-alpha in inducing phenotypic transformation and can also act as a negative autocrine growth factor. TGF-beta has a potential role in embryonal development, cellular differentiation, hormone secretion, and immune function. TGF-beta is found mostly as homodimer forms of separate gene products TGF-beta1, TGF-beta2 or TGF-beta3. Heterodimers composed of TGF-beta1 and 2 (TGF-beta1.2) or of TGF-beta2 and 3 (TGF-beta2.3) have been isolated. The TGF-beta proteins are synthesized as precursor proteins.Nodal Protein: The founding member of the nodal signaling ligand family of proteins. Nodal protein was originally discovered in the region of the mouse embryo primitive streak referred to as HENSEN'S NODE. It is expressed asymmetrically on the left side in chordates and plays a critical role in the genesis of left-right asymmetry during vertebrate development.Bone Morphogenetic Proteins: Bone-growth regulatory factors that are members of the transforming growth factor-beta superfamily of proteins. They are synthesized as large precursor molecules which are cleaved by proteolytic enzymes. The active form can consist of a dimer of two identical proteins or a heterodimer of two related bone morphogenetic proteins.Smad Proteins: A family of proteins that are involved in the translocation of signals from TGF-BETA RECEPTORS; BONE MORPHOGENETIC PROTEIN RECEPTORS; and other surface receptors to the CELL NUCLEUS. They were originally identified as a class of proteins that are related to the mothers against decapentaplegic protein, Drosophila and sma proteins from CAENORHABDITIS ELEGANS.Signal Transduction: The intracellular transfer of information (biological activation/inhibition) through a signal pathway. In each signal transduction system, an activation/inhibition signal from a biologically active molecule (hormone, neurotransmitter) is mediated via the coupling of a receptor/enzyme to a second messenger system or to an ion channel. Signal transduction plays an important role in activating cellular functions, cell differentiation, and cell proliferation. Examples of signal transduction systems are the GAMMA-AMINOBUTYRIC ACID-postsynaptic receptor-calcium ion channel system, the receptor-mediated T-cell activation pathway, and the receptor-mediated activation of phospholipases. Those coupled to membrane depolarization or intracellular release of calcium include the receptor-mediated activation of cytotoxic functions in granulocytes and the synaptic potentiation of protein kinase activation. Some signal transduction pathways may be part of larger signal transduction pathways; for example, protein kinase activation is part of the platelet activation signal pathway.Growth Differentiation Factors: A family of BONE MORPHOGENETIC PROTEIN-related proteins that are primarily involved in regulation of CELL DIFFERENTIATION.RNA, Messenger: RNA sequences that serve as templates for protein synthesis. Bacterial mRNAs are generally primary transcripts in that they do not require post-transcriptional processing. Eukaryotic mRNA is synthesized in the nucleus and must be exported to the cytoplasm for translation. Most eukaryotic mRNAs have a sequence of polyadenylic acid at the 3' end, referred to as the poly(A) tail. The function of this tail is not known for certain, but it may play a role in the export of mature mRNA from the nucleus as well as in helping stabilize some mRNA molecules by retarding their degradation in the cytoplasm.Mesoderm: The middle germ layer of an embryo derived from three paired mesenchymal aggregates along the neural tube.Smad3 Protein: A receptor-regulated smad protein that undergoes PHOSPHORYLATION by ACTIVIN RECEPTORS, TYPE I. Activated Smad3 can bind directly to DNA, and it regulates TRANSFORMING GROWTH FACTOR BETA and ACTIVIN signaling.Bone Morphogenetic Protein Receptors, Type I: A subtype of bone morphogenetic protein receptors with high affinity for BONE MORPHOGENETIC PROTEINS. They can interact with and undergo PHOSPHORYLATION by BONE MORPHOGENETIC PROTEIN RECEPTORS, TYPE II. They signal primarily through RECEPTOR-REGULATED SMAD PROTEINS.Smad4 Protein: A signal transducing adaptor protein and tumor suppressor protein. It forms a complex with activated RECEPTOR-REGULATED SMAD PROTEINS. The complex then translocates to the CELL NUCLEUS and regulates GENETIC TRANSCRIPTION of target GENES.Protein-Serine-Threonine Kinases: A group of enzymes that catalyzes the phosphorylation of serine or threonine residues in proteins, with ATP or other nucleotides as phosphate donors.Growth Substances: Signal molecules that are involved in the control of cell growth and differentiation.Embryonic Induction: The complex processes of initiating CELL DIFFERENTIATION in the embryo. The precise regulation by cell interactions leads to diversity of cell types and specific pattern of organization (EMBRYOGENESIS).Molecular Sequence Data: Descriptions of specific amino acid, carbohydrate, or nucleotide sequences which have appeared in the published literature and/or are deposited in and maintained by databanks such as GENBANK, European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL), National Biomedical Research Foundation (NBRF), or other sequence repositories.In Situ Hybridization: A technique that localizes specific nucleic acid sequences within intact chromosomes, eukaryotic cells, or bacterial cells through the use of specific nucleic acid-labeled probes.Xenopus Proteins: Proteins obtained from various species of Xenopus. Included here are proteins from the African clawed frog (XENOPUS LAEVIS). Many of these proteins have been the subject of scientific investigations in the area of MORPHOGENESIS and development.Gene Expression Regulation, Developmental: Any of the processes by which nuclear, cytoplasmic, or intercellular factors influence the differential control of gene action during the developmental stages of an organism.Myositis Ossificans: A disease characterized by bony deposits or the ossification of muscle tissue.Gene Expression: The phenotypic manifestation of a gene or genes by the processes of GENETIC TRANSCRIPTION and GENETIC TRANSLATION.Collagen Type II: A fibrillar collagen found predominantly in CARTILAGE and vitreous humor. It consists of three identical alpha1(II) chains.Xenopus: An aquatic genus of the family, Pipidae, occurring in Africa and distinguished by having black horny claws on three inner hind toes.Glycoproteins: Conjugated protein-carbohydrate compounds including mucins, mucoid, and amyloid glycoproteins.Bone Morphogenetic Protein Receptors, Type II: A subtype of bone morphogenetic protein receptors with low affinity for BONE MORPHOGENETIC PROTEINS. They are constitutively active PROTEIN-SERINE-THREONINE KINASES that can interact with and phosphorylate TYPE I BONE MORPHOGENETIC PROTEIN RECEPTORS.Trans-Activators: Diffusible gene products that act on homologous or heterologous molecules of viral or cellular DNA to regulate the expression of proteins.Cell Differentiation: Progressive restriction of the developmental potential and increasing specialization of function that leads to the formation of specialized cells, tissues, and organs.Granulosa Cells: Supporting cells for the developing female gamete in the OVARY. They are derived from the coelomic epithelial cells of the gonadal ridge. Granulosa cells form a single layer around the OOCYTE in the primordial ovarian follicle and advance to form a multilayered cumulus oophorus surrounding the OVUM in the Graafian follicle. The major functions of granulosa cells include the production of steroids and LH receptors (RECEPTORS, LH).Amino Acid Sequence: The order of amino acids as they occur in a polypeptide chain. This is referred to as the primary structure of proteins. It is of fundamental importance in determining PROTEIN CONFORMATION.Embryo, Nonmammalian: The developmental entity of a fertilized egg (ZYGOTE) in animal species other than MAMMALS. For chickens, use CHICK EMBRYO.Ovary: The reproductive organ (GONADS) in female animals. In vertebrates, the ovary contains two functional parts: the OVARIAN FOLLICLE for the production of female germ cells (OOGENESIS); and the endocrine cells (GRANULOSA CELLS; THECA CELLS; and LUTEAL CELLS) for the production of ESTROGENS and PROGESTERONE.Reverse Transcriptase Polymerase Chain Reaction: A variation of the PCR technique in which cDNA is made from RNA via reverse transcription. The resultant cDNA is then amplified using standard PCR protocols.DNA-Binding Proteins: Proteins which bind to DNA. The family includes proteins which bind to both double- and single-stranded DNA and also includes specific DNA binding proteins in serum which can be used as markers for malignant diseases.Base Sequence: The sequence of PURINES and PYRIMIDINES in nucleic acids and polynucleotides. It is also called nucleotide sequence.Cells, Cultured: Cells propagated in vitro in special media conducive to their growth. Cultured cells are used to study developmental, morphologic, metabolic, physiologic, and genetic processes, among others.Cell Line: Established cell cultures that have the potential to propagate indefinitely.Body Patterning: The processes occurring in early development that direct morphogenesis. They specify the body plan ensuring that cells will proceed to differentiate, grow, and diversify in size and shape at the correct relative positions. Included are axial patterning, segmentation, compartment specification, limb position, organ boundary patterning, blood vessel patterning, etc.Proteoglycans: Glycoproteins which have a very high polysaccharide content.Immunohistochemistry: Histochemical localization of immunoreactive substances using labeled antibodies as reagents.Cloning, Molecular: The insertion of recombinant DNA molecules from prokaryotic and/or eukaryotic sources into a replicating vehicle, such as a plasmid or virus vector, and the introduction of the resultant hybrid molecules into recipient cells without altering the viability of those cells.Receptors, Cell Surface: Cell surface proteins that bind signalling molecules external to the cell with high affinity and convert this extracellular event into one or more intracellular signals that alter the behavior of the target cell (From Alberts, Molecular Biology of the Cell, 2nd ed, pp693-5). Cell surface receptors, unlike enzymes, do not chemically alter their ligands.Follicle Stimulating Hormone, beta Subunit: The beta subunit of follicle stimulating hormone. It is a 15-kDa glycopolypeptide. Full biological activity of FSH requires the non-covalently bound heterodimers of an alpha and a beta subunit. Mutation of the FSHB gene causes delayed puberty, or infertility.DNA Primers: Short sequences (generally about 10 base pairs) of DNA that are complementary to sequences of messenger RNA and allow reverse transcriptases to start copying the adjacent sequences of mRNA. Primers are used extensively in genetic and molecular biology techniques.Sequence Homology, Amino Acid: The degree of similarity between sequences of amino acids. This information is useful for the analyzing genetic relatedness of proteins and species.Goosecoid Protein: Goosecoid protein is a homeodomain protein that was first identified in XENOPUS. It is found in the SPEMANN ORGANIZER of VERTEBRATES and plays an important role in neuronal CELL DIFFERENTIATION and ORGANOGENESIS.Cell Division: The fission of a CELL. It includes CYTOKINESIS, when the CYTOPLASM of a cell is divided, and CELL NUCLEUS DIVISION.Mice, Inbred C57BLTransfection: The uptake of naked or purified DNA by CELLS, usually meaning the process as it occurs in eukaryotic cells. It is analogous to bacterial transformation (TRANSFORMATION, BACTERIAL) and both are routinely employed in GENE TRANSFER TECHNIQUES.Protein Binding: The process in which substances, either endogenous or exogenous, bind to proteins, peptides, enzymes, protein precursors, or allied compounds. Specific protein-binding measures are often used as assays in diagnostic assessments.Ligands: A molecule that binds to another molecule, used especially to refer to a small molecule that binds specifically to a larger molecule, e.g., an antigen binding to an antibody, a hormone or neurotransmitter binding to a receptor, or a substrate or allosteric effector binding to an enzyme. Ligands are also molecules that donate or accept a pair of electrons to form a coordinate covalent bond with the central metal atom of a coordination complex. (From Dorland, 27th ed)Proteins: Linear POLYPEPTIDES that are synthesized on RIBOSOMES and may be further modified, crosslinked, cleaved, or assembled into complex proteins with several subunits. The specific sequence of AMINO ACIDS determines the shape the polypeptide will take, during PROTEIN FOLDING, and the function of the protein.