Genes in this family provide instructions for making specialized proteins called endogenous ligands. A ligand is a protein that attaches (binds) to another protein called a receptor; receptor proteins have specific sites into which the ligands fit like keys into locks. Endogenous ligands are those that are produced in the body, not those introduced into the body, such as certain drugs.
Together, ligands and their receptors trigger signals that affect cell development and function. Alterations in ligands can impair cell signaling and change the normal activities of cells. Because ligands mediate many different functions in the body, mutations in genes in the endogenous ligands gene family can have a variety of effects.
The HUGO Gene Nomenclature Committee (HGNC) provides an index of gene families and their member genes.
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