TGF-β signaling inhibits cell growth in epithelial cells and thus acts as tumor suppressor, yet increased TGF-β signaling often promotes cancer progression through effects on the tumor micro-environment and effects on the carcinoma cells that can lead to epithelial plasticity responses and increased invasion. The responsive epithelial or carcinoma cells can regulate their cell surface levels of TGF-β receptors, and thus enhance their responses to TGF-β. In addition to transcription control of TGF-β receptor expression, the cells can rapidly mobilize TβRII and TβRI from a large intracellular receptor pool to the cell surface, and thus enhance their TGF-β responsiveness. For example, high glucose, as seen in hyperglycemia, rapidly induces high levels of cell surface receptors that increase the cell’s TGF-β responsiveness, resulting in extracellular matrix production and increased cell size. Similarly, increased cell surface TGF-β receptor levels and TGF-β responsiveness also occur in response to insulin, which is therapeutically used against diabetes-associated hyperglycemia. The insulin-induced increase in cell surface levels requires activation of Akt, which then phosphorylates the membrane-associated RabGAP AS160, thus alleviating AS160-mediated retention of vesicles containing TβRII and TβRI, and allowing them to reach the cell surface. Additionally, the levels of functional TGF-β receptor complexes at the cell surface is controlled by TACE-mediated ectodomain shedding, which is activated in response to Erk and p38 MAPK activation. We will discuss the physiological implications of these multiple levels of control of TGF-β receptor cell surface presentation and TGF-β responsiveness in cancer cell behavior and cancer progression. Finally, the epithelial plasticity response to TGF-β is also controlled by the direct interaction of activated Smad3 with a methyltransferase, which consequently controls the histone modifications of the gene encoding the transcription factor Snail, a master regulator that drives epithelial-mesenchymal transition. Thus, Smad-mediated changes of histone methylation complement direct Smad-mediated transcription effects in the control of epithelial-mesenchymal transition.
Citation Format: Rik Derynck, Erine Budi, Baby-Periyanayaki Muthusamy, Yoko Katsuno, Dan Du. Control of TGF-β responsiveness and epithelial plasticity. [abstract]. In: Proceedings of the AACR Special Conference: Developmental Biology and Cancer; Nov 30-Dec 3, 2015; Boston, MA. Philadelphia (PA): AACR; Mol Cancer Res 2016;14(4_Suppl):Abstract nr IA31.
- ©2016 American Association for Cancer Research.