Cell death & disease

Novel tumor suppressive function of Smad4 in serum starvation-induced cell death through PAK1-PUMA pathway.

PMID 22130069


DPC4 (deleted in pancreatic cancer 4)/Smad4 is an essential factor in transforming growth factor (TGF)-β signaling and is also known as a frequently mutated tumor suppressor gene in human pancreatic and colon cancer. However, considering the fact that TGF-β can contribute to cancer progression through transcriptional target genes, such as Snail, MMPs, and epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT)-related genes, loss of Smad4 in human cancer would be required for obtaining the TGF-β signaling-independent advantage, which should be essential for cancer cell survival. Here, we provide the evidences about novel role of Smad4, serum-deprivation-induced apoptosis. Elimination of serum can obviously increase the Smad4 expression and induces the cell death by p53-independent PUMA induction. Instead, Smad4-deficient cells show the resistance to serum starvation. Induced Smad4 suppresses the PAK1, which promotes the PUMA destabilization. We also found that Siah-1 and pVHL are involved in PAK1 destabilization and PUMA stabilization. In fact, Smad4-expressed cancer tissues not only show the elevated expression of PAK1, but also support our hypothesis that Smad4 induces PUMA-mediated cell death through PAK1 suppression. Our results strongly suggest that loss of Smad4 renders the resistance to serum-deprivation-induced cell death, which is the TGF-β-independent tumor suppressive role of Smad4.