Ligand-dependent ubiquitination of Smad3 is regulated by casein kinase 1 gamma 2, an inhibitor of TGF-β signaling

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Transforming growth factor-beta (TGF-β) elicits a variety of cellular activities primarily through a signaling cascade mediated by two key transcription factors, Smad2 and Smad3. Numerous regulatory mechanisms exist to control the activity of Smad3, thereby modulating the strength and specificity of TGF-β responses. In search for potential regulators of Smad3 through a yeast two-hybrid screen, we identified casein kinase 1 gamma 2 (CKIγ2) as a novel Smad3-interacting protein. In mammalian cells, CKIγ2 selectively and constitutively binds Smad3 but not Smad1, -2 or -4. Functionally, CKIγ2 inhibits Smad3-mediated TGF-β responses including induction of target genes and cell growth arrest, and this inhibition is dependent on CKIγ2 kinase activity. Mechanistically, CKIγ2 does not affect the basal levels of Smad proteins or activity of the receptors. Rather, CKIγ2 preferentially promotes the ubiquitination and degradation of activated Smad3 through direct phosphorylation of its MH2 domain at Ser418. Importantly, mutation of Ser418 to alanine or aspartic acid causes an increase or decrease of Smad3 activity, respectively, in the presence of TGF-β. CKIγ2 is the first kinase known to mark activated Smad3 for destruction. Given its negative function in TGF-β signaling and its reported overexpression in human cancers, CKIγ2 may act as an oncoprotein during tumorigenesis.Oncogene (2008) 27, 7235-7247; doi:10.1038/onc.2008.337; published online 15 September 2008

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