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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2011 May 10;108(19):7820-5. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1103441108. Epub 2011 Apr 25.

Stem cell antigen-1 enhances tumorigenicity by disruption of growth differentiation factor-10 (GDF10)-dependent TGF-beta signaling.

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  • 1Department of Oncology, Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center, Georgetown University Medical Center, Washington, DC 20007, USA.


Stem cell antigen (Sca)-1/Ly6A, a glycerophosphatidylinositol-linked surface protein, was found to be associated with murine stem cell- and progenitor cell-enriched populations, and also has been linked to the capacity of tumor-initiating cells. Despite these interesting associations, this protein's functional role in these processes remains largely unknown. To identify the mechanism underlying the protein's possible role in mammary tumorigenesis, Sca-1 expression was examined in Sca-1(+/EGFP) mice during carcinogenesis. Mammary tumor cells derived from these mice readily engrafted in syngeneic mice, and tumor growth was markedly inhibited on down-regulation of Sca-1 expression. The latter effect was associated with significantly elevated expression of the TGF-β ligand growth differentiation factor-10 (GDF10), which was found to selectively activate TGF-β receptor (TβRI/II)-dependent Smad3 phosphorylation. Overexpression of GDF10 attenuated tumor formation; conversely, silencing of GDF10 expression reversed these effects. Sca-1 attenuated GDF10-dependent TGF-β signaling by disrupting the heterodimerization of TβRI and TβRII receptors. These findings suggest a new functional role for Sca-1 in maintaining tumorigenicity, in part by acting as a potent suppressor of TGF-β signaling.

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