Activation of extracellular signal-regulated kinase by TGF-β1 via TβRII and Smad7 dependent mechanisms in human bronchial epithelial BEP2D cells

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Transforming growth factor-β1 (TGF-β1) can activate mitogen-activated protein kinases (MAPKs) in many types of cells. The mechanism of this activation is not well elucidated. Here, we explore the role of TGF-β/Smads signaling compounds in TGF-β1-mediated activation of extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK) MAPK in human papillomavirus (HPV)-18 immortalized human bronchial epithelial cell line BEP2D and the role of TGF-β1-induced phosphorylation of ERK in proliferation and apoptosis of BEP2D. The cell models of siRNA-mediated silencing of TGF-β receptor type II (TβRII), Smad2, Smad3, Smad4, and Smad7 were employed in this study. Our results demonstrate that TGF-β1 activates ERK in a time-dependent manner with a maximum effect at 60 min; overexpression of Smad7 increased this TGF-β1-mediated phosphorylation of the ERK; and siRNA-mediated silencing of TβRII, Smad3, Smad4, and Smad7 abrogated this effect. Moreover, we observed that overexpression of Smad7 restored TGF-β1-mediated ERK phosphorylation in Smad4 knockdown cells but not in TβRII knockdown cells. In BEP2D cells, TGF-β1 treatment effectively inhibited cells' proliferation and induced their apoptosis. Pretreatment with U0126, an inhibitor of ERK1/2, significantly enhanced the TGF-β1-mediated antiproliferative and apoptosis induction effects in BEP2D cells. These data revealed that TβRII and Smad7 play the critical roles in TGF-β1-mediated activation of ERK; Smad3 and Smad4 can play an indirect role through up-regulating Smad7 expression; and TGF-β1-induced phosphorylation of ERK may participate in BEP2D cell proliferation and apoptosis regulation.

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