Rik Derynck, PhD

Department of Cell & Tissue Biology
+1 415 476-7322

Our research focuses on the role of TGF-a and -b, two structurally related growth and differentiation factors, in epithelial and mesenchymal cell proliferation and differentiation. We use various cell biological, molecular and biochemical approaches to address cell physiological and developmental questions. 

TGF-a is a growth factor for various cell types from ectodermal origin, including most epithelial cells, and exerts its functions in an autocrine and paracrine fashion. TGF-a is normally made as a transmembrane protein at the cell surface and functions in cell communication through its ability to interact with a tyrosine kinase receptor. The ectodomain can be proteolytically released in a highly regulated manner and is then released. Our TGF-a research focuses on the identification and functional characterization of proteins that form a complex in association with transmembrane TGF-a. We study their functions in the presentation of transmembrane TGF-a, signaling and regulation of TGF-a ectodomain cleavage in normal and transformed epithelial cells. 

TGF-b is a prototype for a large family of growth and differentiation factors which regulate development. TGF-b is also a potent inducer of growth arrest in many cell types. Our research focus is on the mechanism of signaling by TGF-b receptors and its role in mesenchymal differentiation and apoptosis. We study how the Smads, a novel class of intracellular signaling effectors, act as signal transducers following receptor activation, are translocated into the nucleus and regulate gene expression. We also study how this signaling regulates mesenchymal cell differentiation into muscle, bone and fat cells, and cell death.

Primary Thematic Area: 
Developmental & Stem Cell Biology
Secondary Thematic Area: 
Cancer Biology & Cell Signaling
Research Summary: 
Transmembrane TGF-a and TGF-b Receptor Signaling in Cell Proliferation and Differentiation



Fibroblast-specific inhibition of TGF-ß1 signaling attenuates lung and tumor fibrosis.

The Journal of clinical investigation

Wei Y, Kim TJ, Peng DH, Duan D, Gibbons DL, Yamauchi M, Jackson JR, Le Saux CJ, Calhoun C, Peters J, Derynck R, Backes BJ, Chapman HA

Autotaxin-mediated lipid signaling intersects with LIF and BMP signaling to promote the naive pluripotency transcription factor program.

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America

Kime C, Sakaki-Yumoto M, Goodrich L, Hayashi Y, Sami S, Derynck R, Asahi M, Panning B, Yamanaka S, Tomoda K

The Discovery and Early Days of TGF-ß: A Historical Perspective.

Cold Spring Harbor perspectives in biology

Moses HL, Roberts AB, Derynck R

TGF-ß and the TGF-ß Family: Context-Dependent Roles in Cell and Tissue Physiology.

Cold Spring Harbor perspectives in biology

Morikawa M, Derynck R, Miyazono K