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Transforming growth factor–β (TGF-β) superfamily members regulate a plethora of developmental processes, and disruption of their activity has been implicated in a variety of human diseases ranging from cancer to chondrodysplasias and pulmonary hypertension. Intense investigations have revealed that SMAD proteins constitute the basic components of the core intracellular signaling cascade and that SMADs function by carrying signals from the cell surface directly to the nucleus. Recent insights have revealed how SMAD proteins themselves are regulated and how appropriate subcellular localization of SMADs and TGF-β transmembrane receptors is controlled. Current research efforts investigating the contribution of SMAD-independent pathways promise to reveal advances to enhance our understanding of the signaling cascade.