Myostatin (also known as growth differentiation factor 8, abbreviated GDF-8) is a myokine, a protein produced and released by myocytes that acts on muscle cells' autocrine function to inhibit myogenesis: muscle cell growth and differentiation. In humans it is encoded by the MSTN gene. It is mapped to 2q32.2. Myostatin is a secreted growth differentiation factor that is a member of the TGF beta protein family. This gene encodes a secreted ligand of the TGF-beta (transforming growth factor-beta) superfamily of proteins. Ligands of this family bind various TGF-beta receptors leading to recruitment and activation of SMAD family transcription factors that regulate gene expression. The encoded preproprotein is proteolytically processed to generate each subunit of the disulfide-linked homodimer. This protein negatively regulates skeletal muscle cell proliferation and differentiation. Mutations in this gene are associated with increased skeletal muscle mass in humans and other mammals.