Early phase TGFβ receptor signalling dynamics stabilised by the deubiquitinase UCH37 promotes cell migratory responses

Anthony J. Cutts, Surinder M. Soond, Steve Powell, Andrew Chantry

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29 Citations (Scopus)


TGFß signals through serine/threonine kinase receptors and intracellular Smad transcription factors. An important regulatory step involves ubiquitination of Smads and/or TGFß receptors by specific ubiquitin ligases, in a process that can be reversed by the deubiquitinating enzyme UCH37. Here, to explore the physiological role of UCH37 in TGFß signalling we have generated stable and inducible HaCAT keratinocyte and Colo-357 pancreatic carcinoma cell lines mis-expressing UCH37. We show that UCH37 knockdown significantly inhibits the activity of a TGFß-dependent gene reporter and selectively decreases levels of some TGFß-dependent target genes, notably p21 and PAI-1, but only during the early phase of TGFß receptor activation. Interestingly, UCH37 knockdown in Colo-357 cells had no effect on TGFß-dependent cell proliferation and epithelial–mesenchymal transition, yet significantly impaired cell migration. Collectively, our data indicate that UCH37 sustains early TGFß pathway activation kinetics that determines threshold-specific gene expression patterns, and that opposing actions of ubiquitin ligases and deubiquitinases influences distinct biological TGFß-dependent biological responses. Moreover, we suggest that UCH37 could represent a viable target for novel and selective cancer therapeutics.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)604-612
Number of pages9
JournalInternational Journal of Biochemistry & Cell Biology
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2011

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