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Int J Cancer. 1999 Jul 19;82(2):197-202.

Expression of Smad proteins in human colorectal cancer.

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Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research, Uppsala, Sweden.


Escape from transforming growth factor-beta (TGF-beta)-induced inhibition of proliferation has been observed in many tumor cells and may contribute to loss of growth control. Smad proteins have been identified as major components in the intracellular signaling of TGF-beta family members. In this study, we examined the expression of receptor-activated, common-mediator and inhibitory Smads by immunohistochemistry in human colorectal cancers. We found increased expression of receptor-activated Smads in a fraction of the tumor cells, while no immunostaining for Smad2, Smad3 or Smad5 and only occasional staining for Smad1/8 was found in epithelial mucosa of normal colon. No or only weak staining for receptor-activated Smads, common-mediator Smad4 and inhibitory Smads was observed in the tumor stroma. Common-mediator Smad4 and inhibitory Smads were detected in cells of both tumor and normal tissues. We observed a distinct pattern of Smad4 immunostaining of epithelial cells along colon crypts, with high expression in zones of terminal differentiation. Our data show selective up-regulation of receptor-activated Smad proteins in human colorectal cancers and suggest involvement of Smad4 in differentiation and apoptosis of surface epithelial cells of normal crypts.

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