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J Biol Chem. 2002 Aug 9;277(32):28483-90. Epub 2002 May 21.

Up-regulated transcriptional repressors SnoN and Ski bind Smad proteins to antagonize transforming growth factor-beta signals during liver regeneration.

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  • 1Department of Genetics, University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19104, USA.


Transforming growth factor-beta (TGF-beta) functions as an antiproliferative factor for hepatocytes. However, for unexplained reasons, hepatocytes become resistant to TGF-beta signals and can proliferate despite the presence of TGF-beta during liver regeneration. TGF-beta is up-regulated during liver regeneration, although it is not known whether it is active or latent. TGF-beta activity may be examined by assessing Smad activation, a downstream signaling pathway. Smad pathway activation during liver regeneration induced by partial hepatectomy or CC4 injury was examined by assessing the levels of phospho-Smad2 and Smad2-Smad4 complexes. We found that Smad proteins were slightly activated in quiescent liver, but that their activation was further enhanced in regenerating liver. Interestingly, TGF-beta/Smad pathway inhibitors (SnoN and Ski) were up-regulated during regeneration, and notably, SnoN was induced mainly in hepatocytes. SnoN and Ski are transcriptional repressors that may render some cells resistant to TGF-beta via binding Smad proteins. Complexes between SnoN, Ski, and the activated Smad proteins were detected from 2 to 120 h during the major proliferative phase in regenerating liver. Inhibitory complexes decreased after liver mass restitution (5-15 days), suggesting that persistently activated Smad proteins might participate in returning the liver to a quiescent state. Our data show that active TGF-beta/Smad signals are present during regeneration and suggest that SnoN/Ski induction might explain hepatocyte resistance to TGF-beta during the proliferative phase.

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