Bad bones, absent smell, selfish testes: the pleiotropic consequences of human FGF receptor mutations.
The discovery in 1994 that highly specific mutations of fibroblast growth factor (FGF) receptor 3 caused the most common form of human short-limbed dwarfism, achondroplasia, heralded a new era in FGF receptor (FGFR) biology. A decade later, the purpose of this review is to survey how the study of humans with FGFR mutations continues to provide insights into FGFR function in health and disease, and the clinical applications of these findings. Amongst the most interesting recent discoveries have been the description of novel phenotypes associated with FGFR1 and FGFR3 mutations; identification of fundamental differences in the cellular mechanisms of mutant FGFR2 and FGFR3 action; and the direct identification of FGFR2 and FGFR3 mutations in sperm. These clinical observations illustrate the pleiotropism of FGFR action and fuel ongoing efforts to understand the rich biology and pathophysiology of the FGF signalling system.