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J Biol Chem. 2007 Jun 22;282(25):17985-96. Epub 2007 Mar 28.

Biological cross-talk between WNK1 and the transforming growth factor beta-Smad signaling pathway.

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Department of Pharmacology, The University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas, Dallas, Texas 75390-9041, USA.


WNKs (with no lysine (K)), unique serine/threonine protein kinases, have been best studied in the context of cell volume regulation and ion homeostasis. Here we describe a biological link between WNKs and transforming growth factor (TGF) beta-Smad signaling. Both WNK1 and WNK4 directly bind to and phosphorylate Smad2. Knockdown of WNK1 in HeLa cells using small interfering RNA reduces Smad2 protein expression; this decrease is at least partially due to down-regulation of Smad2 transcription. In contrast, phosphorylated Smad2 significantly accumulated in the nucleus as a consequence of depletion of WNK1, resulting in Smad-mediated transcriptional responses. In addition, TGFbeta-induced target gene transcripts were increased in WNK1 small interfering RNA cells. These findings suggest WNK1 as a dual modulator of TGFbeta-Smad signaling pathways.

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