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Nat Cell Biol. 2010 Mar;12(3):286-93. doi: 10.1038/ncb2029. Epub 2010 Feb 14.

TGF-beta-mediated phosphorylation of hnRNP E1 induces EMT via transcript-selective translational induction of Dab2 and ILEI.

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Department of Cancer Biology, Lerner Research Institute, Cleveland Clinic, 9500 Euclid Avenue, Cleveland, Ohio 44195, USA.


Transforming growth factor-beta (TGF-beta) induces epithelial-mesenchymal transdifferentiation (EMT) accompanied by cellular differentiation and migration. Despite extensive transcriptomic profiling, the identification of TGF-beta-inducible, EMT-specific genes has met with limited success. Here we identify a post-transcriptional pathway by which TGF-beta modulates the expression of EMT-specific proteins and of EMT itself. We show that heterogeneous nuclear ribonucleoprotein E1 (hnRNP E1) binds a structural, 33-nucleotide TGF-beta-activated translation (BAT) element in the 3' untranslated region of disabled-2 (Dab2) and interleukin-like EMT inducer (ILEI) transcripts, and represses their translation. TGF-beta activation leads to phosphorylation at Ser 43 of hnRNP E1 by protein kinase Bbeta/Akt2, inducing its release from the BAT element and translational activation of Dab2 and ILEI messenger RNAs. Modulation of hnRNP E1 expression or its post-translational modification alters the TGF-beta-mediated reversal of translational silencing of the target transcripts and EMT. These results suggest the existence of a TGF-beta-inducible post-transcriptional regulon that controls EMT during the development and metastatic progression of tumours.

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