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Carcinogenesis. 2008 May;29(5):1070-6. doi: 10.1093/carcin/bgn054. Epub 2008 Feb 28.

Functional blockade of Smad4 leads to a decrease in beta-catenin levels and signaling activity in human pancreatic carcinoma cells.

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  • 1Instituto de Investigaciones Biomedicas Alberto Sols, Arturo Duperier 4, 28029 Madrid, Spain.


In the last several years, many laboratories have tried to unravel the complex signaling mechanisms activated by TGF-beta(1) in transformed cells. Smad proteins are the principal mediators of the transforming growth factor beta (TGF-beta) response, but this factor can also activate Smad-independent pathways in different cell types. Our previous studies in murine keratinocytes led to the identification of a cooperation between oncogenic Ras and Smad4 inactivation during malignant progression. We further investigated the function of Smad4 in human pancreatic cancer, in which loss-of-function mutations affecting Smad4 occur with a 50% frequency. Expression of a dominant-negative Smad4 construct in the adenocarcinoma cell line PANC-1 led to increased ubiquitination and proteasomal degradation of beta-catenin. Moreover, loss of Smad4 abrogated beta-catenin-signaling activity and was associated with a reduction of the tumorigenic potential of PANC-1 cells in scid mice. Although the expression of the dominant-negative Smad4 blocked TGF-beta(1)/Smad2,3-signaling activity, the above-mentioned effects of Smad4 on beta-catenin stability were independent of the TGF-beta1/Smad2,3-signaling pathway. These findings provide evidence for a cross talk between Smad4 and the Wnt/beta-catenin pathway in pancreatic carcinoma cells, suggesting a new role for Smad4 as an attenuator of beta-catenin proteasomal degradation.

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