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Mol Cell Biol. 2004 May;24(10):4241-54.

Id2 and Id3 define the potency of cell proliferation and differentiation responses to transforming growth factor beta and bone morphogenetic protein.

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Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research, SE-751 24 Uppsala, Sweden.


Transforming growth factors beta (TGF-betas) inhibit growth of epithelial cells and induce differentiation changes, such as epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT). On the other hand, bone morphogenetic proteins (BMPs) weakly affect epithelial cell growth and do not induce EMT. Smad4 transmits signals from both TGF-beta and BMP pathways. Stimulation of Smad4-deficient epithelial cells with TGF-beta 1 or BMP-7 in the absence or presence of exogenous Smad4, followed by cDNA microarray analysis, revealed 173 mostly Smad4-dependent, TGF-beta-, or BMP-responsive genes. Among 25 genes coregulated by both factors, inhibitors of differentiation Id2 and Id3 showed long-term repression by TGF-beta and sustained induction by BMP. The opposing regulation of Id genes is critical for proliferative and differentiation responses. Hence, ectopic Id2 or Id3 expression renders epithelial cells refractory to growth inhibition and EMT induced by TGF-beta, phenocopying the BMP response. Knockdown of endogenous Id2 or Id3 sensitizes epithelial cells to BMP, leading to robust growth inhibition and induction of transdifferentiation. Thus, Id genes sense Smad signals and create a permissive or refractory nuclear environment that defines decisions of cell fate and proliferation.

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