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Int J Cancer. 2001 Sep 1;93(5):653-61.

Novel inactivating mutations of transforming growth factor-beta type I receptor gene in head-and-neck cancer metastases.

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Department of Medicine, Yale Cancer Center, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, CT, USA.


Carcinoma cell lines are frequently refractory to transforming growth factor-beta (TGF beta)-mediated cell cycle arrest. Whether and how TGF beta signaling is disrupted in the majority of human tumors, however, remains unclear. To investigate whether TGF beta signaling might be disrupted by inactivation of the key signaling molecule, the TGF beta type I (T beta R-I) receptor, and whether or not T beta R-I inactivation is associated with late stage disease, we conducted a comprehensive structural analysis of the T beta R-I gene in fine-needle aspirates of 23 head-&-neck cancer metastases. We encountered 4 different mutations of T beta R-I, 3 of which have not been previously identified. In 1 case, we found a somatic intragenic 4-bp deletion predicting for a truncation of the receptor protein. This is the first example of a true loss-of-function mutation of T beta R-I in a human epithelial neoplasm. In 2 other cases, we identified missense mutations located between the juxtamembrane- and serine-threonine kinase domains. One of these resulted in an alanine-to-threonine substitution (A230T), which disrupts receptor signaling activity by causing rapid protein degradation within the endoplasmatic reticulum. This represents a novel mechanism of inactivation of a TGF beta signaling intermediate. Finally, we identified a serine-to-tyrosine substitution at codon 387 (S387Y) in a metastasis but not in the corresponding primary tumor. We had previously shown this S387Y mutant to be predominantly associated with breast cancer metastases and to have a diminished ability to mediate TGF beta-dependent signaling. In aggregate, these findings provide further support for the hypothesis that inactivation of the TGF beta signaling pathway occurs in a significant subset of human cancers.

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