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Mol Cancer Res. 2011 Jan;9(1):78-89. doi: 10.1158/1541-7786.MCR-10-0216. Epub 2010 Dec 3.

Distinctive mechanism for sustained TGF-β signaling and growth inhibition: MEK1 activation-dependent stabilization of type II TGF-β receptors.

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  • 1Lymphocyte Cell Biology Section, Laboratory of Immunology, Biomedical Research Center, National Institute on Aging, National Institutes of Health, 251 Bayview Blvd., Baltimore, MD 21224, USA.


There are multiple mechanisms by which cells evade TGF-β-mediated growth inhibitory effects. In this report, we describe a novel mechanism by which cells become resistant to TGF-β-mediated growth suppression. Although having all the components of the TGF-β signaling pathway, different cell lines, RL, HaCaT, and BJAB, have different sensitivities toward TGF-β-induced growth suppression. The TGF-β resistance of RL, a B-cell lymphoma cell line, was due to ligand-induced downregulation of TGF-β receptor II (TβRII) and only transient TGF-β induced nuclear translocation of Smad2 and Smad3. With low-dose phorbol 12-myristate 13-acetate (PMA) or anti-IgM treatment, TGF-β sensitivity was restored by stabilizing TβRII expression and sustaining TGF-β signaling. The MEK inhibitor, U0126, blocked both PMA- and anti-IgM-induced upregulation of TβRII. In HaCaT and BJAB, two TGF-β-sensitive cell lines, which had higher basal levels of phospho-MEK and TβRII compared with RL, U0126 induced downregulation of TβRII and blocked subsequent TGF-β signaling. Similar results were also obtained with normal B cells, where MEK1 inhibitor downregulated TβRII and subsequent TGF-β signaling. Constitutively active MEK1, but not constitutively active ERK2, induced upregulation of TβRII. Furthermore, TβRII physically interacted with the constitutively active MEK1, but not with wild-type MEK1, indicating involvement of active MEK1 in stabilizing TβRII. Collectively, our data suggest a novel mechanism for MEK1 in regulating the sensitivity to TGF-β signaling by stabilizing TβRII.

©2010 AACR.

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