Smad3 a component of the TGFβ signaling pathway contributes to G1 arrest in breast cancer cells. phosphorylation site mutations were co-transfected with a Smad3-responsive reporter construct into parental vector control (A1) or cyclin E overexpressing (EL1) MCF7 cells. Smad3 function was evaluated by luciferase reporter assay and mRNA analysis. The impact of a Cdk2 inhibitor and cdk2 siRNA on Smad3 activity was also assessed. Cells expressing Smad3 made up of mutations of the CDK phosphorylation sites had higher p15 and p21 and lower c-myc mRNA levels as well as higher Smad3-responsive reporter activity compared with controls or cells expressing WT Smad3. Transfection of cdk2 siRNA resulted in a significant increase in Smad3-responsive reporter activity compared with control siRNA; reporter activity was also increased after the treatment with a Cdk2 inhibitor. Thus cyclin E-mediated inhibition of Smad3 is regulated by CDK2 phosphorylation of the Smad3 protein in MCF7 cells. Inhibition of CDK2 may lead to restoration of Smad3 tumor suppressor activity in breast cancer cells and may represent a potential treatment approach for cyclin E overexpressing breast cancers. Key words: Smad3 breast cancer cyclin E CDK2 TGFβ Introduction Every year in the United States approximately 200 0 women are diagnosed with breast cancer and 44 0 patients die BMS-708163 of the disease. Previous work has implicated members of the TGFβ superfamily and their associated downstream signaling components the Smads in several aspects of breast cancer onset and disease progression.1 2 The role of Smad3 as a tumor suppressor in breast cancer is an emerging area of intense research. Smad3 together with transcriptional co-factors induces expression of the cyclin dependent kinase inhibitors (cdki) p15 and p21. These cdkis facilitate G1 cell cycle arrest by inhibiting cyclin D/E mediated CDK4/2 phosphorylation of the retinoblastoma (Rb) protein.3-5 As a consequence of this cell cycle repression the Rb protein remains unphosphorylated and the E2F-1 transcription factor inactive and thus unable to actualize movement of cells into the S phase.6 7 Smad3 also represses expression of c-myc a key cell cycle mitogen that is overexpressed in many human cancers and is thought to be involved with oncogenic progression in breast cancer cells.8 Members of the TGFβ superfamily of growth factors share significant structural and functional homology and several have crucial roles in mammary gland physiology.9 Activin and TGFβ each signal through a specific set of type II and type I receptors (activin: ActRIIA or ActRIIB with ActRIB; TGFβ: TβRII with TβRI) both type I receptors have very similar kinase domains and both phosphorylate BMS-708163 the regulatory Smads Smad2 and Smad3 to mediate their action.9 Phosphorylated Smad2/3 interacts with Smad4 to facilitate the modulation BMS-708163 of DNA transcription in the nucleus. While the signaling mechanisms of activin and TGFβ are nearly identical and the actions of these ligands Rabbit Polyclonal to GABA-B Receptor. are closely related ultimately they are not the same. Prior work has shown that during murine mammary gland lactation and involution activin and TGFβ are expressed in temporally distinct patterns with activin/Smad3 signaling present during lactation and TGFβ involved in post-lactation involution.10 As the type I receptor is the primary initiator of ligand action differences in the structure and activity of the relationship of either the TβRII:TβRI and ActRIIA/ActRIIB:ActRIB receptor BMS-708163 complexes or the relative expression of each set of receptors within an organ system may confer the unique actions of these different ligands in vivo. Specificity of the activin or TGFβ signal may also be dependent on the particular DNA binding transcriptional co-factors present aberrant expression of cell cycle proteins at the time when the Smads translocate into the nucleus or through cross-talk with other signaling pathways.3 11 Non-canonical CDK4 and CDK2 phosphorylation sites have been found within the Smad3 protein.12 In mouse embryonic fibroblasts phosphorylation of these CDK sites in Smad3 led to abrogation of Smad3 activity.12 The CDKs are serine/threonine protein kinases whose functional activity is mediated by cyclins; CDK2 activity is mediated by cyclin E. Overexpression of cyclin E has been identified in aggressive breast cancers and is associated with poor prognosis.13.