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J Biol Chem. 2013 Mar 22;288(12):8737-49. doi: 10.1074/jbc.M113.455675. Epub 2013 Jan 28.

Protein kinase A modulates transforming growth factor-β signaling through a direct interaction with Smad4 protein.

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Department of Surgery, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan 48109, USA.


Transforming growth factor β (TGFβ) signaling normally functions to regulate embryonic development and cellular homeostasis. It is increasingly recognized that TGFβ signaling is regulated by cross-talk with other signaling pathways. We previously reported that TGFβ activates protein kinase A (PKA) independent of cAMP through an interaction of an activated Smad3-Smad4 complex and the regulatory subunit of the PKA holoenzyme (PKA-R). Here we define the interaction domains of Smad4 and PKA-R and the functional consequences of this interaction. Using a series of Smad4 and PKA-R truncation mutants, we identified amino acids 290-300 of the Smad4 linker region as critical for the specific interaction of Smad4 and PKA-R. Co-immunoprecipitation assays showed that the B cAMP binding domain of PKA-R was sufficient for interaction with Smad4. Targeting of B domain regions conserved among all PKA-R isoforms and exposed on the molecular surface demonstrated that amino acids 281-285 and 320-329 were required for complex formation with Smad4. Interactions of these specific regions of Smad4 and PKA-R were necessary for TGFβ-mediated increases in PKA activity, CREB (cAMP-response element-binding protein) phosphorylation, induction of p21, and growth inhibition. Moreover, this Smad4-PKA interaction was required for TGFβ-induced epithelial mesenchymal transition, invasion of pancreatic tumor cells, and regulation of tumor growth in vivo.

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