Nuclear targeting of transforming growth factor-beta-activated Smad complexes

Hong Bing Chen, Jonathan G Rud, Kai Lin, Lan Xu
Journal of Biological Chemistry 2005 June 3, 280 (22): 21329-36
Upon stimulation by the transforming growth factor beta (TGF-beta), Smad2 and Smad3 are phosphorylated at their C termini and assemble into stable heteromeric complexes with Smad4. These complexes are the functional entities that translocate into the nucleus and regulate the expression of TGF-beta target genes. Here we report that the TGF-beta-activated phospho-Smad3/Smad4 complex utilizes an importin-independent mechanism for nuclear import and engages different nucleoporins for nuclear import compared with the monomeric Smad4. Within the heteromeric complex, phospho-Smad3 appears to dominate over Smad4 in the nuclear import process and guides the complex to its nuclear destination. We also demonstrate that the binding of phospho-Smad3 to Smad4 prevents Smad4 from interacting with the nuclear export receptor chromosome region maintenance 1. In this way, TGF-beta signaling suppresses nuclear export of Smad4 by chromosome region maintenance 1 and thereby targets Smad4 into the nucleus. Indeed tumorigenic mutations in Smad4 that affect its interaction with Smad2 or Smad3 impair nuclear accumulation of Smad4 in response to TGF-beta.

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