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Oncogene. 2007 Feb 15;26(7):970-81. Epub 2006 Aug 14.

Upregulation of two BH3-only proteins, Bmf and Bim, during TGF beta-induced apoptosis.

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1Signal Transduction, Cancer Research UK London Research Institute, London, UK.


Transforming growth factor-beta (TGFbeta)-activated signalling pathways can lead to apoptosis, growth arrest or promotion of malignant behaviour, dependent on cellular context. The molecular mechanisms involved in TGFbeta-induced apoptosis remain controversial; although changes in gene expression are thought to be pivotal to the process, several different candidate apoptotic initiators and mediators have been proposed. Smad4, a critical component of the TGFbeta-induced transcriptional machinery, is shown here to be essential for induction of apoptosis. Gene expression analysis identified the proapoptotic Bcl-2 family members, Bmf and Bim, as induced by TGFbeta, dependent on both Smad4 and p38 function and the generation of reactive oxygen species. TGFbeta-induced Bmf and Bim localize to cellular membranes implicated in apoptosis. Inhibition of the TGFbeta-induced expression of both these proteins together provides significant protection of cells from apoptosis. The TGFbeta-triggered cell death programme thus involves induction of multiple BH3-only proteins during the induction of apoptosis.

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