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J Biol Chem. 2000 Nov 17;275(46):36295-302.

Critical role of Smads and AP-1 complex in transforming growth factor-beta -dependent apoptosis.

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  • 1Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research, Cambridge, Massachusetts 02142, USA.


Transforming growth factor-beta1 (TGF-beta1) induces not only cell growth inhibition but also apoptosis in hepatocytes, myeloid cells, and epithelial cells. Although Smad proteins are identified as key signal transducers in TGF-beta1-dependent growth inhibition, their roles in the induction of apoptosis are unclear. We show here that both Smad proteins and AP-1 complex are involved in TGF-beta1 signaling for apoptosis. Overexpression of a dominant-negative Smad3 mutant or Smad7, both of which impair Smad-mediated signal transduction, inhibits TGF-beta1-dependent apoptosis. Only the JunD. FosB form of the AP-1 complex is markedly activated during TGF-beta1-dependent apoptosis. FosB substantially enhances Smad3. Smad4-dependent transcription, and dominant-negative FosB blocks TGF-beta1-dependent apoptosis but not growth inhibition. Expression of JunD.FosB enhances induction of apoptosis by TGF-beta1. Moreover, JunD.FosB binds to the 12-O-tetradecanoyl-13-acetate-responsive gene promoter element and recruits Smad3.Smad4 to form a multicomponent complex. These results suggest that Smad proteins and AP-1 complex synergize to mediate TGF-beta1-dependent apoptosis.

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