Roles of activin and its signal transduction mechanisms in reproductive tissues

Jean François Ethier, Jock K. Findlay

Research output: Contribution to journalReview ArticleResearchpeer-review

92 Citations (Scopus)


Activins were identified initially as gonadal proteins having a stimulating effect on FSH production by the pituitary gland. Strong evidence has accumulated that activins are important regulating factors for many reproductive processes. Activin may have paracrine or autocrine roles rather than solely an endocrine action on FSH secretion. Activins together with their signalling molecules must be shown to be produced locally in a particular tissue to provide support for their paracrine or autocrine action in that tissue. The discovery of the activin receptors, the intracellular signalling mediators (Smads) and some transcription co-factors involved in activin responses has helped to unravel the activin-transforming growth factor β signalling mechanism. However, few reports have clearly demonstrated the presence of all of the activin signalling molecules in reproductive tissues, despite the important roles of activin in these tissues. Several activin receptor types and Smad molecules have been identified, indicating either a redundancy in signalling molecules or different signalling pathways. At present, it is not clear which particular subset of these signalling molecules is important in reproductive processes. The aim of this review is to collate the information available on activin actions, as well as on the signalling molecules, to understand how activins may transduce their paracrine or autocrine signals in reproductive tissues.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)667-675
Number of pages9
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2001
Externally publishedYes

Cite this