The ability of bone morphogenetic proteins (BMPs) to promote chondrogenesis has been investigated extensively over the past two decades. Although BMPs promote almost every aspect of chondrogenesis, from commitment to terminal differentiation is well known, the mechanisms of BMP action in discrete aspects of endochondral bone formation have only recently begun to be investigated. In this review, we focus on in vivo studies that have identified interactions between BMP signaling pathways and key downstream targets of BMP action in chondrogenesis. We also discuss evidence regarding the potential roles of BMP receptors in mediating distinct aspects of chondrogenesis, and studies investigating the intersection of BMP pathways with other pathways known to coordinate the progression of chondrocytes through the growth plate. These studies indicate that both Smad-dependent and -independent BMP pathways are required for chondrogenesis, and that BMPs exert essential roles via regulation of the Indian hedgehog (IHH)/parathyroid hormone-related protein (PTHrP) and fibroblast growth factor (FGF) pathways in the growth plate. © 2004 Wiley-Liss, Inc.
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