Growth differentiation factor 6 (GDF6) is a regulatory protein associated with growth and differentiation of developing embryos. GDF6 is encoded by the GDF6 gene. It is a member the transforming growth factor beta superfamily which is a group of proteins involved in early regulation of cell growth and development. GDF6 has been shown to play an important role in the patterning of the epidermis and bone and joint formation. GDF6 induces genes related to the development of the epidermis and can bind directly to noggin, a gene that controls neural development, to block its effect. GDF6 interacts with bone morphogenetic proteins (BMPs) to form heterodimers that may work to regulate neural induction and patterning in developing embryos. By developing a GDF6 “knockout” model, scientists repressed expression of GDF6 in developing mice embryos. Through this experiment, the scientists were able to directly link GDF6 with several skull and vertebral joint disorders, such as scoliosis and chondrodysplasia, Grebe type.
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