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Gene. 2011 Oct 10;485(2):160-6. doi: 10.1016/j.gene.2011.06.023. Epub 2011 Jun 25.

TGF-β1 inhibits the growth and metastasis of tongue squamous carcinoma cells through Smad4.

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  • 1Department of Dentistry, the Second Affiliated Hospital of Harbin Medical University, Harbin 150086, China.


Transforming growth factor-β1 (TGF-β1) is a multifunctional cytokine that regulates cell growth, differentiation, migration, apoptosis and extracellular matrix remodeling. TGF-β1 transduces signals from the cell membrane to the cell nucleus through serine/threonine kinase receptors and their downstream effectors, Smad molecules. Although many studies have been focused on TGF-β1-Smad signaling pathway, the role of TGF-β1/Smad in tongue squamous cell carcinoma is not fully understood. In the present study, we used a series of cell function assays to examine the role of TGF-β-Smad4 signaling in tongue squamous cell carcinoma. We observed the effects of TGF-β1 on the growth and metastatic potential of the tongue squamous cell carcinoma cell line Ts, which expresses lower level of Smad4 protein. We found that Smad4 could decrease TGF-β1-induced cell proliferation, and that Smad4 overexpression promoted Ts cell apoptosis. In Ts vector control cells, TGF-β1 increased the expression of TβRII, as well as MMP-2, and enhanced cell invasion through the basement membrane, and then induced cell metastasis. However in Ts cells stably expressing Smad4, Smad4 mediated TGF-β1-induced p21 expression promoted cell apoptosis and inhibited cell proliferation, delayed MMP-2 expression, and decreased cell metastasis. Therefore, TGF-β1 plays distinct roles in the Smad4-dependent and -independent signaling pathways.

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