Functional neuronal connectivity requires proper neuronal morphogenesis and its dysregulation causes neurodevelopmental diseases. Transforming growth factor-β (TGF-β) family cytokines play pivotal roles in development, but little is known about their contribution to morphological development of neurons. Here we show that the Smad-dependent canonical signaling of TGF-β family cytokines negatively regulates neuronal morphogenesis during brain development. Mechanistically, activated Smads form a complex with transcriptional repressor TG-interacting factor (TGIF), and downregulate the expression of a neuronal polarity regulator, collapsin response mediator protein 2. We also demonstrate that TGF-β family signaling inhibits neurite elongation of human induced pluripotent stem cell-derived neurons. Furthermore, the expression of TGF-β receptor 1, Smad4, or TGIF, which have mutations found in patients with neurodevelopmental disorders, disrupted neuronal morphogenesis in both mouse (male and female) and human (female) neurons. Together, these findings suggest that the regulation of neuronal morphogenesis by an evolutionarily conserved function of TGF-β signaling is involved in the pathogenesis of neurodevelopmental diseases.
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