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Inhibitory role of Smad7 in hepatocarcinogenesis in mice and in vitro.

  • Wang, Jia1
  • Zhao, Jingmin
  • Chu, Eagle S H
  • Mok, Myth T S
  • Go, Minnie Y Y
  • Man, Kwan
  • Heuchel, Rainer
  • Lan, Hui Yao
  • Chang, Zhijie
  • Sung, Joseph J Y
  • Yu, Jun
  • 1 Institute of Digestive Disease and Department of Medicine and Therapeutics, Li Ka Shing Institute of Health Sciences, Chinese University of Hong Kong. , (Hong Kong SAR China)
Published Article
The Journal of Pathology
Wiley (John Wiley & Sons)
Publication Date
Aug 01, 2013
DOI: 10.1002/path.4206
PMID: 23625826


Smad7 is a principal inhibitor of the TGFβ-Smad signalling pathway. We have investigated the functional significance of Smad7 in hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). Smad7 knockout (KO) and wild-type (WT) mice were injected with diethylnitrosamine (DEN) to induce HCC. The effects of Smad7 on cellular features were examined in HCC cells, using a Smad7 over-expression or deletion approach. Signalling pathway components modulated by Smad7 in HCC were evaluated using luciferase reporter assay and co-immunoprecipitation. Smad7 was down-regulated in human HCCs compared with the adjacent normal tissues (p < 0.001). Smad7 KO mice were more susceptible to DEN-induced HCC than WT mice (78% versus 22%, p < 0.05). HCCs from KO mice displayed a greater proliferation activity (p < 0.05) and a reduced apoptotic index compared with WT littermates (p < 0.05). Deletion of Smad7 promoted cell proliferation in primary cultured HCC cells. In addition, over-expression of Smad7 in HCC cell lines markedly suppressed cell growth (p < 0.0001) and colony formation (p < 0.01). Cell cycle analysis revealed an increase in the G1 phase and a reduction in the S-phase populations, accompanied by up-regulation of p27(Kip1) and down-regulation of cyclin D1. Smad7 increased cell apoptosis (p < 0.01) by mediating an intrinsic [caspase-9, caspase-3 and poly(ADP-ribose) polymerase] apoptotic pathway. Moreover, Smad7 inhibited NF-κB signalling by interacting with TAB2, an upstream activator of NF-κB, and inhibited TGFβ signalling by suppressing phosphorylation of Smad3. In conclusion, loss of Smad7 enhances susceptibility to HCC. Smad7 suppresses HCC cell growth by inhibiting proliferation and G1 -S phase transition and inducing apoptosis through attenuation of NF-κB and TGFβ signalling. Smad7 acts as a potential tumour suppressor in liver.

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