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Pigment Cell Melanoma Res. 2010 Dec;23(6):795-808. doi: 10.1111/j.1755-148X.2010.00758.x. Epub 2010 Aug 25.

Smad7 restricts melanoma invasion by restoring N-cadherin expression and establishing heterotypic cell-cell interactions in vivo.

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  • 1Department of Biochemistry & Molecular Biology, Georgetown University School of Medicine Washington, DC, USA.


The list of transforming growth factor-beta (TGF-β)-related proteins in non-canonical TGF-β signaling is growing. Examples include receptor-Smads directing micro-RNA processing and inhibitory-Smads, e.g. Smad7, directing cell adhesion. Human skin grafts with fluorescently tagged melanoma cells revealed Smad7-expressing cells positioned themselves proximal to the dermal-epidermal junction and failed to form tumors, while control cells readily invaded and formed tumors within the dermis. Smad7 significantly inhibited β-catenin T41/S45 phosphorylation associated with degradation and induced a 4.5-fold increase in full-length N-cadherin. Cell adhesion assays confirmed a strong interaction between Smad7-expressing cells and primary dermal fibroblasts mediated via N-cadherin, while control cells were incapable of such interaction. Immunofluorescent analysis of skin grafts indicated N-cadherin homotypic interaction at the surface of both Smad7 cells and primary dermal fibroblasts, in contrast to control melanoma cells. We propose that Smad7 suppresses β-catenin degradation and promotes interaction with N-cadherin, stabilizing association with neighboring dermal fibroblasts, thus mitigating invasion.

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