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Mol Biol Cell. 2007 Jun;18(6):2264-73. Epub 2007 Apr 11.

Cx43 mediates TGF-beta signaling through competitive Smads binding to microtubules.

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Department of Pathology and Cell Regulation, Kyoto Prefectural University of Medicine, Kawaramachi Hirokoji, Kamigyo-ku, Kyoto 602-8566, Japan.


Transforming growth factor-beta (TGF-beta) superfamily members play an important role in growth, differentiation, adhesion, apoptosis, and development in many species from insects and worms to vertebrates. Recently, TGF-beta signaling has been demonstrated to be negatively regulated by microtubules (MTs), which anchor endogenous Smad2/3 to cytosol and also directly interact with connexin43 (Cx43), and the activity of TGF-beta is mediated by Cx43. However, the mechanism underlying the intracellular regulation of TGF-beta activity by Cx43 remains unknown. Here, we found that the functional link between TGF-beta activation and Cx43 is mediated by interactions among Smad2/3, MTs, and Cx43. We confirmed that Cx43 competes with Smad2/3 for binding to MTs, which Cx43 specifically induces release of Smad2/3 from MTs and increases phospho-Smad2 and which, as a result, Smad2/3 and Smad4 are accumulated in the nucleus, leading to activation of the transcription of target genes. Consistently, knockdown of the endogenous Cx43 activity with double-strand RNA (dsRNA) in HL1 cardiomyocytes and Cx43 knockout mice cardiomyocytes consistently show the opposite effect. Our findings demonstrate a novel mechanism for Cx43 positive regulation of TGF-beta function.

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