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Escalante-Alcalde, D; Piek, E; Ju, WJ; Heyer, J; Stewart, CL; Weinstein, M; Deng, CX; Kucherlapati, R; Bottinger, EP; Roberts, AB (2001)


J BIOL CHEM 276(23):19945-19953
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A prominent pathway of transforming growth factor (TGF)-beta signaling involves receptor-dependent phosphorylation of Smad2 and Smad3, which then translocate to the nucleus to activate transcription of target genes. To investigate the relative importance of these two Smad proteins in TGF-beta1 signal transduction, we have utilized a loss of function approach, based on analysis of the effects of TGF-beta1 on fibroblasts derived from mouse embryos deficient in Smad2 (S2KO) or Smad3 (S3KO). TGF-beta1 caused 50% inhibition of cellular proliferation in wild-type fibroblasts as assessed by [H-3]thymidine incorporation, whereas the growth of S2KO or S3KO cells was only weakly inhibited by TGF-beta1. Lack of Smad2 or Smad3 expression did not affect TGF-1 beta -induced fibronectin synthesis but resulted in markedly suppressed induction of plasminogen activator inhibitor-1 by TGF-beta1. Moreover, TGF-beta1-mediated induction of matrix metalloproteinase-a was selectively dependent on Smad2, whereas induction of c-fos, Smad7, and TGF-beta1 autoinduction relied on expression of Smad3. Investigation of transcriptional activation of TGF-beta -sensitive reporter genes in the different fibroblasts showed that activation of the (Smad binding element)(4)-Lux reporter by TGF-beta1 was dependent on expression of Smad3, but not Smad2, whereas activation of the activin response element-Lux reporter was strongly suppressed in S2KO fibroblasts but, on the contrary, enhanced in S3KO cells. Our findings indicate specific roles for Smad2 and Smad3 in TGF-beta1 signaling.