This gene encodes a member of the Smad family of signal transduction proteins. Smad proteins are phosphorylated and activated by transmembrane serine-threonine receptor kinases in response to transforming growth factor (TGF)-beta signaling. The product of this gene forms homomeric complexes and heteromeric complexes with other activated Smad proteins, which then accumulate in the nucleus and regulate the transcription of target genes. The protein acts as a tumor suppressor and inhibits epithelial cell proliferation. It may also have an inhibitory effect on tumors by reducing angiogenesis and increasing blood vessel hyperpermeability. The encoded protein is a crucial component of the bone morphogenetic protein signaling pathway.
In muscle physiology, plays a central role in the balance between atrophy and hypertrophy. When recruited by MSTN, promotes atrophy response via phosphorylated SMAD2/4. MSTN decrease causes SMAD4 release and subsequent recruitment by the BMP pathway to promote hypertrophy via phosphorylated SMAD1/5/8. Acts synergistically with SMAD1 and YY1 in bone morphogenetic protein (BMP)-mediated cardiac-specific gene expression. Component of the heterotrimeric SMAD2/SMAD3-SMAD4 complex that forms in the nucleus and is required for the TGF-mediated signaling. Promotes binding of the SMAD2/SMAD4/FAST-1 complex to DNA and provides an activation function required for SMAD1 or SMAD2 to stimulate transcription.