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Paradoxically, during early tumor development in many cancer types, TGF-β acts as a tumor suppressor, whereas in the advanced stages of these cancers, increased TGF-β expression is linked to high metastasis and poor prognosis. These findings suggest that unidentified mechanisms may function to rewire TGF-β signaling toward its prometastatic role in cancer cells. Our current study using non-small-cell lung carcinoma (NSCLC) cell lines, animal models, and clinical specimens demonstrates that suppression of SMAD2, with SMAD3 function intact, switches TGF-β-induced transcriptional responses to a prometastatic state. Importantly, we identified chaperonin containing TCP1 subunit 6A (CCT6A) as an inhibitor and direct binding protein of SMAD2 and found that CCT6A suppresses SMAD2 function in NSCLC cells and promotes metastasis. Furthermore, selective inhibition of SMAD3 or CCT6A efficiently suppresses TGF-β-mediated metastasis. Our findings provide a mechanism that directs TGF-β signaling toward its prometastatic arm and may contribute to the development of therapeutic strategies targeting TGF-β for NSCLC.


Zhe Ying, Han Tian, Yun Li, Rong Lian, Wei Li, Shanshan Wu, Hui-Zhong Zhang, Jueheng Wu, Lei Liu, Junwei Song, Hongyu Guan, Junchao Cai, Xun Zhu, Jun Li, Mengfeng Li. CCT6A suppresses SMAD2 and promotes prometastatic TGF-β signaling. The Journal of clinical investigation. 2017 May 01;127(5):1725-1740

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PMID: 28375158

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