Molecular and Cellular Pharmacology, Vol 1, No 1 (2009)

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Role of Radiation-induced TGF-beta Signaling in Cancer Therapy

Horatiu C. Dancea, Mohammed M. Shareef, Mansoor M. Ahmed


TGF-β signaling regulates several different biological processes involving cell-growth, differentiation, apoptosis, motility, angiogenesis, epithelial mesenchymal transition and extracellular matrix production that affects embryonic development and pathogenesis of various diseases, including cancer, its effects depending on the cellular context and physiological environment. Growth suppression mediated by TGF-β signaling often associated with inhibition of c-myc, cdks and induction of p15, p27, Bax and p21. Despite its growth inhibitory effect, in certain conditions TGF-β may act as a promoter of cell proliferation and invasion. Loss of responsiveness to growth suppression by TGF-β due to mutation or loss of TGF-beta type II receptor (TβRII) and Smad4 in several different cancer cells are reported. In addition, TGF-β binding to its receptor activates many non-canonical signaling pathways. Radiation induced TGF-β is primarily involved in normal tissue injury and fibrosis. Seminal studies from our group have used radio-adjuvant therapies, involving classical components of the pathway such as TβRII and SMAD4 to overcome the growth promoting effects of TGF-β. The main impediment in the radiation-induced TGF-β signaling is the induction of SMAD7 that blocks TGF-β signaling in a negative feedback manner. It is well demonstrated from our studies that the use of neutralizing antibodies against TGF-β can render a robust radio-resistant effect.  Thus, understanding the functional interactions of TGF-β signaling components of the pathway with other molecules may help tailor appropriate adjuvant radio-therapeutic strategies for treatment of solid tumors.

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