Nature communications

TRAF6 ubiquitinates TGFβ type I receptor to promote its cleavage and nuclear translocation in cancer.

PMID 21629263


Transforming growth factor β (TGFβ) is a pluripotent cytokine promoting epithelial cell plasticity during morphogenesis and tumour progression. TGFβ binding to type II and type I serine/threonine kinase receptors (TβRII and TβRI) causes activation of different intracellular signaling pathways. TβRI is associated with the ubiquitin ligase tumor necrosis factor receptor (TNFR)-associated factor 6 (TRAF6). Here we show that TGFβ, via TRAF6, causes Lys63-linked polyubiquitination of TβRI, promoting cleavage of TβRI by TNF-alpha converting enzyme (TACE), in a PKCζ-dependent manner. The liberated intracellular domain (ICD) of TβRI associates with the transcriptional regulator p300 to activate genes involved in tumour cell invasiveness, such as Snail and MMP2. Moreover, TGFβ-induced invasion of cancer cells is TACE- and PKCζ- dependent and the TβRI ICD is localized in the nuclei of different kinds of tumour cells in tissue sections. Thus, our data reveal a specific role for TβRI in TGFβ mediated tumour invasion.