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EMBO J. 2005 Sep 21;24(18):3247-58. Epub 2005 Aug 25.

The G protein-coupled receptor kinase-2 is a TGFbeta-inducible antagonist of TGFbeta signal transduction.

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Hormones and Cancer Research Unit, Department of Medicine, Royal Victoria Hospital, McGill University, Montreal, Canada.


Signaling from the activin/transforming growth factor beta (TGFbeta) family of cytokines is a tightly regulated process. Disregulation of TGFbeta signaling is often the underlying basis for various cancers, tumor metastasis, inflammatory and autoimmune diseases. In this study, we identify the protein G-coupled receptor kinase 2 (GRK2), a kinase involved in the desensitization of G protein-coupled receptors (GPCR), as a downstream target and regulator of the TGFbeta-signaling cascade. TGFbeta-induced expression of GRK2 acts in a negative feedback loop to control TGFbeta biological responses. Upon TGFbeta stimulation, GRK2 associates with the receptor-regulated Smads (R-Smads) through their MH1 and MH2 domains and phosphorylates their linker region. GRK2 phosphorylation of the R-Smads inhibits their carboxyl-terminal, activating phosphorylation by the type I receptor kinase, thus preventing nuclear translocation of the Smad complex, leading to the inhibition of TGFbeta-mediated target gene expression, cell growth inhibition and apoptosis. Furthermore, we demonstrate that GRK2 antagonizes TGFbeta-induced target gene expression and apoptosis ex vivo in primary hepatocytes, establishing a new role for GRK2 in modulating single-transmembrane serine/threonine kinase receptor-mediated signal transduction.

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