The role of transforming growth factor β (TGF-β) in carcinogenesis is complex, with tumor suppressor and pro-oncogenic activities depending on the particular tumor cell and its stage in malignant progression. We previously have demonstrated in breast cancer cell lines that Smad2/3 signaling played a dominant role in mediating tumor suppressor effects on well-differentiated breast cancer cell lines grown as xenografts and prometastatic effects on a more invasive, metastatic cell line. Our present data based on selective interference with activation of endogenous Smad2 and Smad3 by stable expression of a mutant form of the TGF-β type I receptor (RImL45) unable to bind Smad2/3 but with a functional kinase again show that reduction in Smad2/3 signaling by expression of RImL45 enhanced the malignancy of xenografted tumors of the well-differentiated MCF10A-derived tumor cell line MCF10CA1h, resulting in formation of larger tumors with a higher proliferative index and more malignant histologic features. In contrast, expression of RImL45 in the more aggressive MCF10CA1a cell line strongly suppressed formation of lung metastases following tail vein injection. These results suggest a causal, dominant role for the endogenous Smad2/3 signaling pathway in the tumor suppressor and prometastatic activities of TGF-β in these cells. Using an in vitro assay, we further show that non-Smad signaling pathways, including p38 and c-Jun NH2-terminal kinase, cooperate with TGF-β/Smads in enhancing migration of metastatic MCF10CA1a cells, but that, although necessary for migration, these other pathways are not sufficient for metastasis.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cancer Research