Ontogeny of higher organisms as well the regulation of tissue homeostasis in adult individuals requires a fine-balanced interplay of regulating factors that individually trigger the fate of particular cells to either stay undifferentiated or to differentiate towards distinct tissue specific lineages. In some cases, these factors act synergistically to promote certain cellular responses, whereas in other tissues the same factors antagonize each other. However, the molecular basis of this obvious dual signaling activity is still only poorly understood. Bone morphogenetic proteins (BMPs) and fibroblast growth factors (FGFs) are two major signal protein families that have a lot in common: They are both highly preserved between different species, involved in essential cellular functions, and their ligands vastly outnumber their receptors, making extensive signal regulation necessary. In this review we discuss where and how BMP and FGF signaling cross paths. The compiled data reflect that both factors synchronously act in many tissues, and that antagonism and synergism both exist in a context-dependent manner. Therefore, by challenging a generalization of the connection between these two pathways a new chapter in BMP FGF signaling research will be introduced.
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