The publication data currently available has been vetted by Vanderbilt faculty, staff, administrators and trainees. The data itself is retrieved directly from NCBI's PubMed and is automatically updated on a weekly basis to ensure accuracy and completeness.
If you have any questions or comments, please contact us.
Background & Aims - Chronic inflammation is a predisposing condition for colorectal cancer. Many studies to date have focused on proinflammatory signaling pathways in the colon. Understanding the mechanisms that suppress inflammation, particularly in epithelial cells, is critical for developing therapeutic interventions. Here, we explored the roles of transforming growth factor β (TGFβ) family signaling through SMAD4 in colonic epithelial cells.
Methods - The gene was deleted specifically in adult murine intestinal epithelium. Colitis was induced by 3 rounds of dextran sodium sulfate in drinking water, after which mice were observed for up to 3 months. Nontransformed mouse colonocyte cell lines and colonoid cultures and human colorectal cancer cell lines were analyzed for responses to TGFβ1 and bone morphogenetic protein 2.
Results - Dextran sodium sulfate treatment was sufficient to drive carcinogenesis in mice lacking colonic expression, with resulting tumors bearing striking resemblance to human colitis-associated carcinoma. Loss of SMAD4 protein was observed in 48% of human colitis-associated carcinoma samples as compared with 19% of sporadic colorectal carcinomas. Loss of increased the expression of inflammatory mediators within nontransformed mouse colon epithelial cells in vivo. In vitro analysis of mouse and human colonic epithelial cell lines and organoids indicated that much of this regulation was cell autonomous. Furthermore, TGFβ signaling inhibited the epithelial inflammatory response to proinflammatory cytokines.
Conclusions - TGFβ suppresses the expression of proinflammatory genes in the colon epithelium, and loss of its downstream mediator, SMAD4, is sufficient to initiate inflammation-driven colon cancer. Transcript profiling: GSE100082.
Fibrosis compromises pancreatic ductal carcinoma (PDAC) treatment and contributes to patient mortality, yet antistromal therapies are controversial. We found that human PDACs with impaired epithelial transforming growth factor-β (TGF-β) signaling have high epithelial STAT3 activity and develop stiff, matricellular-enriched fibrosis associated with high epithelial tension and shorter patient survival. In several KRAS-driven mouse models, both the loss of TGF-β signaling and elevated β1-integrin mechanosignaling engaged a positive feedback loop whereby STAT3 signaling promotes tumor progression by increasing matricellular fibrosis and tissue tension. In contrast, epithelial STAT3 ablation attenuated tumor progression by reducing the stromal stiffening and epithelial contractility induced by loss of TGF-β signaling. In PDAC patient biopsies, higher matricellular protein and activated STAT3 were associated with SMAD4 mutation and shorter survival. The findings implicate epithelial tension and matricellular fibrosis in the aggressiveness of SMAD4 mutant pancreatic tumors and highlight STAT3 and mechanics as key drivers of this phenotype.
BACKGROUND - Higher frequency of Smad4 inactivation or loss of expression is observed in metastasis of colorectal cancer (CRC) leading to unfavourable survival and contributes to chemoresistance. However, the molecular mechanism of how Smad4 regulates chemosensitivity of CRC is unknown.
METHODS - We evaluated how the loss of Smad4 in CRC enhanced chemoresistance to 5-fluorouracil (5-FU) using two CRC cell lines in vitro and in vivo. Immunoblotting with cell and tumour lysates and immunohistochemical analyses with tissue microarray were performed.
RESULTS - Knockdown or loss of Smad4 induced tumorigenicity, migration, invasion, angiogenesis, metastasis, and 5-FU resistance. Smad4 expression in mouse tumours regulated cell-cycle regulatory proteins leading to Rb phosphorylation. Loss of Smad4 activated Akt pathway that resulted in upregulation of anti-apoptotic proteins, Bcl-2 and Bcl-w, and Survivin. Suppression of phosphatidylinositol-3-kinase (PI3K)/Akt pathway by LY294002 restored chemosensitivity of Smad4-deficient cells to 5-FU. Vascular endothelial growth factor-induced angiogenesis in Smad4-deficient cells might also lead to chemoresistance. Low levels of Smad4 expression in CRC tissues correlated with higher levels of Bcl-2 and Bcl-w and with poor overall survival as observed in immunohistochemical staining of tissue microarrays.
CONCLUSION - Loss of Smad4 in CRC patients induces resistance to 5-FU-based therapy through activation of Akt pathway and inhibitors of this pathway may sensitise these patients to 5-FU.
Squamous cell carcinomas (SCCs) originate in stratified epithelia, with a small subset becoming metastatic. Epithelial stem cells are targets for driver mutations that give rise to SCCs, but it is unknown whether they contribute to oncogenic multipotency and metastasis. We developed a mouse model of SCC by targeting two frequent genetic mutations in human SCCs, oncogene Kras(G12D) activation and Smad4 deletion, to mouse keratin 15-expressing (K15+) stem cells. We show that transgenic mice developed multilineage tumors, including metastatic SCCs. Among cancer stem cell-enriched (CSC-enriched) populations, those with increased side population (SP) cells correlated with epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) and lung metastasis. We show that microRNA-9 (miR-9) contributed to SP expansion and metastasis, and miR-9 inhibition reduced the number of SP cells and metastasis. Increased miR-9 was detected in metastatic human primary SCCs and SCC metastases, and miR-9-transduced human SCC cells exhibited increased invasion. We identified α-catenin as a predominant miR-9 target. Increased miR-9 in human SCC metastases correlated with α-catenin loss but not E-cadherin loss. Our results demonstrate that stem cells with Kras(G12D) activation and Smad4 depletion can produce tumors that are multipotent and susceptible to EMT and metastasis. Additionally, tumor initiation and metastatic properties of CSCs can be uncoupled, with miR-9 regulating the expansion of metastatic CSCs.
After an initial response to chemotherapy, many patients with triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC) have recurrence of drug-resistant metastatic disease. Studies with TNBC cells suggest that chemotherapy-resistant populations of cancer stem-like cells (CSCs) with self-renewing and tumor-initiating capacities are responsible for these relapses. TGF-β has been shown to increase stem-like properties in human breast cancer cells. We analyzed RNA expression in matched pairs of primary breast cancer biopsies before and after chemotherapy. Biopsies after chemotherapy displayed increased RNA transcripts of genes associated with CSCs and TGF-β signaling. In TNBC cell lines and mouse xenografts, the chemotherapeutic drug paclitaxel increased autocrine TGF-β signaling and IL-8 expression and enriched for CSCs, as indicated by mammosphere formation and CSC markers. The TGF-β type I receptor kinase inhibitor LY2157299, a neutralizing TGF-β type II receptor antibody, and SMAD4 siRNA all blocked paclitaxel-induced IL8 transcription and CSC expansion. Moreover, treatment of TNBC xenografts with LY2157299 prevented reestablishment of tumors after paclitaxel treatment. These data suggest that chemotherapy-induced TGF-β signaling enhances tumor recurrence through IL-8-dependent expansion of CSCs and that TGF-β pathway inhibitors prevent the development of drug-resistant CSCs. These findings support testing a combination of TGF-β inhibitors and anticancer chemotherapy in patients with TNBC.
Gastric cancer is the second leading cause of cancer mortality worldwide and is projected to rise to tenth in all-cause mortality in the near term. Early detection requires improved sensitivity and specificity of endoscopic imaging with novel methods. The objective of this study was to evaluate the utility of activatable molecular probes for the detection of gastric cancer both in vivo and ex vivo in a preclinical model. Smad4⁺/⁻ mice, which develop spontaneous gastric neoplasia, were compared to normal wild-type controls. Cathepsin-activatable and matrix metalloproteinase (MMP)-activatable molecular probes were injected 24 hours and 6 hours before imaging, respectively. In vivo imaging was performed using quantitative tomographic near-infrared fluorescence (NIRF) imaging. For validation, ex vivo imaging and histologic examination were performed. Molecular imaging in vivo of Smad4⁺/⁻ gastric cancer murine models revealed intense activation of both cathepsin B and MMP probes. Ex vivo imaging and histology confirmed that the detected neoplasms were adenocarcinomas and hyperplastic lesions. This study provides proof of principle that the cathepsin- and MMP-activatable molecular probes are activated in the Smad4⁺/⁻ murine model of spontaneous gastric adenocarcinoma and can be imaged by both in vivo and ex vivo NIRF methods. The cathepsin probe also detects hyperplastic lesions.
BACKGROUND & AIMS - Mutational inactivation of adenomatous polyposis coli (APC) is an early event in colorectal cancer (CRC) progression that affects the stability and increases the activity of β-catenin, a mediator of Wnt signaling. Progression of CRC also involves inactivation of signaling via transforming growth factor β and bone morphogenetic protein (BMP), which are tumor suppressors. However, the interactions between these pathways are not clear. We investigated the effects of loss of the transcription factor Smad4 on levels of β-catenin messenger RNA (mRNA) and Wnt signaling.
METHODS - We used microarray analysis to associate levels of Smad4 and β-catenin mRNA in colorectal tumor samples from 250 patients. We performed oligonucleotide-mediated knockdown of Smad4 in human embryonic kidney (HEK293T) and in HCT116 colon cancer cells and transgenically expressed Smad4 in SW480 colon cancer cells. We analyzed adenomas from (APC(Δ1638/+)) and (APC(Δ1638/+)) × (K19Cre(ERT2)Smad4(lox/lox)) mice by using laser capture microdissection.
RESULTS - In human CRC samples, reduced levels of Smad4 correlated with increased levels of β-catenin mRNA. In Smad4-depleted cell lines, levels of β-catenin mRNA and Wnt signaling increased. Inhibition of BMP or depletion of Smad4 in HEK293T cells increased binding of RNA polymerase II to the β-catenin gene. Expression of Smad4 in SW480 cells reduced Wnt signaling and levels of β-catenin mRNA. In mice with heterozygous disruption of Apc(APC(Δ1638/+)), Smad4-deficient intestinal adenomas had increased levels of β-catenin mRNA and expression of Wnt target genes compared with adenomas from APC(Δ1638/+) mice that expressed Smad4.
CONCLUSIONS - Transcription of β-catenin is inhibited by BMP signaling to Smad4. These findings provide important information about the interaction among transforming growth factor β, BMP, and Wnt signaling pathways in progression of CRC.
Copyright Â© 2012 AGA Institute. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Valvular heart disease is a major cause of mortality and morbidity. Revealing the cellular processes and molecules that regulate valve formation and remodeling is required to develop effective therapies. A key step in valve formation during heart development is the epithelial-mesenchymal transformation (EMT) of a subpopulation of endocardial cells in the atrioventricular cushion (AVC). The type III transforming growth factor-β receptor (TGFβR3) regulates AVC endocardial cell EMT in vitro and mesenchymal cell differentiation in vivo. Little is known concerning the signaling mechanisms downstream of TGFβR3. Here we use endocardial cell EMT in vitro to determine the role of 2 well-characterized downstream TGFβ signaling pathways in TGFβR3-dependent endocardial cell EMT. Targeting of Smad4, the common mediator Smad, demonstrated that Smad signaling is required for EMT in the AVC and TGFβR3-dependent EMT stimulated by TGFβ2 or BMP-2. Although we show that Smads 1, 2, 3, and 5 are required for AVC EMT, overexpression of Smad1 or Smad3 is not sufficient to induce EMT. Consistent with the activation of the Par6/Smurf1 pathway downstream of TGFβR3, targeting ALK5, Par6, or Smurf1 significantly inhibited EMT in response to either TGFβ2 or BMP-2. The requirement for ALK5 activity, Par6, and Smurf1 for TGFβR3-dependent endocardial cell EMT is consistent with the documented role of this pathway in the dissolution of tight junctions. Taken together, our data demonstrate that TGFβR3-dependent endocardial cell EMT stimulated by either TGFβ2 or BMP-2 requires Smad4 and the activation of the Par6/Smurf1 pathway.
Copyright © 2011 S. Karger AG, Basel.
BACKGROUND & AIMS - Transforming growth factor (TGF)-beta signaling occurs through Smads 2/3/4, which translocate to the nucleus to regulate transcription; TGF-beta has tumor-suppressive effects in some tumor models and pro-metastatic effects in others. In patients with colorectal cancer (CRC), mutations or reduced levels of Smad4 have been correlated with reduced survival. However, the function of Smad signaling and the effects of TGF-beta-receptor kinase inhibitors have not been analyzed during CRC metastasis. We investigated the role of TGF-beta/Smad signaling in CRC progression.
METHODS - We evaluated the role of TGF-beta/Smad signaling on cell proliferation, migration, invasion, tumorigenicity, and metastasis in Smad4-null colon carcinoma cell lines (MC38 and SW620) and in those that transgenically express Smad4. We also determined the effects of a TGF-beta-receptor kinase inhibitor (LY2109761) in CRC tumor progression and metastasis in mice.
RESULTS - TGF-beta induced migration/invasion, tumorigenicity, and metastasis of Smad4-null MC38 and SW620 cells; incubation with LY2109761 reversed these effects. In mice, LY2109761 blocked metastasis of CRC cells to liver, inducing cancer cell expression of E-cadherin and reducing the expression of the tumorigenic proteins matrix metalloproteinase-9, nm23, urokinase plasminogen activator, and cyclooxygenase-2. Transgenic expression of Smad4 significantly reduced the oncogenic potential of MC38 and SW620 cells; in these transgenic cells, TGF-beta had tumor suppressor, rather than tumorigenic, effects.
CONCLUSIONS - TGF-beta/Smad signaling suppresses progression and metastasis of CRC cells and tumors in mice. Loss of Smad4 might underlie the functional shift of TGF-beta from a tumor suppressor to a tumor promoter; inhibitors of TGF-beta signaling might be developed as CRC therapeutics.
Copyright 2009 AGA Institute. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
We have recently reported that the expression of a tight junction protein, claudin-1, is increased during colon carcinogenesis and particularly metastatic colorectal cancer. Manipulation of claudin-1 levels in colon cancer cells showed a positive correlation between claudin-1 expression and tumor growth and metastasis. However, the mechanisms underlying the increased claudin-1 expression in colorectal cancer remains unknown. The tumor suppressor Smad4 is a central intracellular signal transduction component of the transforming growth factor-beta (TGF-beta) family of cytokines. Loss of Smad4 protein expression is correlated with poor prognosis and is frequently observed in invasive and metastatic colorectal carcinoma. In the present study, we report an inverse relationship between Smad4 and claudin-1 expression in human colorectal carcinoma tumor samples and in human colon cancer cell lines. We found that the expression of Smad4 in Smad4-deficient but claudin-1-positive SW480 or HT29 colon cancer cell lines down-regulates claudin-1 expression through transcriptional repression by modulating beta-catenin/T-cell factor/lymphocyte enhancer factor activity. Furthermore, this Smad4-dependent inhibition of claudin-1 expression is independent of TGF-beta signaling because Smad4 expression alone is insufficient to restore TGF-beta signaling in the SW480 cells, and the selective TGF-beta receptor kinase inhibitor LY364947 did not prevent the Smad4 suppression of claudin-1 protein expression in either SW480 or HT29 cells. Taken together, these findings suggest a novel mechanism underlying Smad4 tumor-suppressive function through regulation of a potential metastatic modulator, claudin-1, in a TGF-beta-independent manner.