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J Biol Chem. 2001 Oct 19;276(42):39259-63. Epub 2001 Aug 10.

Suppression of tumor necrosis factor-mediated apoptosis by nuclear factor kappaB-independent bone morphogenetic protein/Smad signaling.

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Laboratory of Molecular Signaling and Apoptosis, Department of Biologic and Materials Sciences, School of Dentistry, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan 48109, USA.


The activation of nuclear factor kappaB (NF-kappa B) plays a pivotal role in the regulation of tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-mediated apoptosis. However, little is known about the regulation of TNF-mediated apoptosis by other signaling pathways or growth factors. Here, unexpectedly, we found that bone morphogenetic protein (BMP)-2 and BMP-4 inhibited TNF-mediated apoptosis by inhibition of caspase-8 activation in C2C12 cells, a pluripotent mesenchymal cell line that has the potential to differentiate into osteoblasts depending on BMP stimulation. Utilizing both a trans-dominant IkappaBalpha inhibitor of NF-kappaB expressed in C2C12 cells and IkappaB kinase beta-deficient embryonic mouse fibroblast, we show that BMP-mediated survival was independent of NF-kappaB activation. Rather, the antiapoptotic activity of BMPs functioned through the Smad signaling pathway. Thus, these findings provide the first report of a BMP/Smad signaling pathway that can inhibit TNF-mediated apoptosis, independent of the prosurvival activity of NF-kappaB. Our results suggest that BMPs not only stimulate osteoblast differentiation but can also promote cell survival during the induction of bone formation, offering new insight into the biological functions of BMPs.

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