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Oncogene. 2000 Sep 14;19(39):4531-41.

TGFbeta1 represses proliferation of pancreatic carcinoma cells which correlates with Smad4-independent inhibition of ERK activation.

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Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology, University of Ulm, D-89070 Ulm, Germany.


Transforming growth factor beta (TGFbeta) is a tumor suppressor acting as inhibitor of cell cycle progression of epithelial cells. We show that treatment of the pancreatic carcinoma cell lines PANC-1 and BxPC-3 with TGFbeta1 inhibits both growth factor-induced activation of the extracellular signal-regulated kinase 2 (ERK2) and translocation of the kinase to the nucleus. TGFbeta1 causes a concentration-dependent reduction of cell proliferation in both cell lines. By measuring ERK activation, we can show that TGFbeta1 is able to repress ERK activation induced by mitogenic stimuli such as EGF. This inhibitory effect of TGFbeta1 is not mediated by suppression of Ras or c-Raf-1 activation, but mediated by TGFbeta1-induced activation of a serine-threonine phosphatase, as demonstrated by inhibition of phosphatases by treatment with okadaic acid. Results obtained in the Smad4-deficient pancreatic carcinoma cell line BxPC-3, demonstrate that TGFbeta1-induced growth inhibition is mediated by a Smad4-independent prevention of ERK2 activation. In contrast to the effects of TGFbeta1 on epithelial cells, mesenchymal NIH3T3 fibroblasts exhibit elevated ERK2 activation and increased cell proliferation in response to TGFbeta1 treatment. Smad4-independent phosphatase-mediated inhibition of mitogen-activated ERK2 represents a novel effector pathway contributing to suppression of epithelial pancreatic carcinoma cell proliferation by TGFbeta1, in addition to the well-known Smad-induced tumor suppressor activity of TGFbeta. Oncogene (2000) 19, 4531 - 4541.

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