Heldin CH, Moustakas A
Cell Tissue Res. 347 (1) 21-36 [2012-01-00; online 2011-06-04]
Transforming growth factor-β (TGFβ) is the prototype for a large family of pleiotropic factors that signal via heterotetrameric complexes of type I and type II serine/threonine kinase receptors. Important intracellular mediators of TGFβ signaling are members of the Smad family. Smad2 and 3 are activated by C-terminal receptor-mediated phosphorylation, whereafter they form complexes with Smad4 and are translocated to the nucleus where they, in cooperation with other transcription factors, co-activators and co-repressors, regulate the transcription of specific genes. Smads have key roles in exerting TGFβ-induced programs leading to cell growth arrest and epithelial-mesenchymal transition. The activity and stability of Smad molecules are carefully regulated by a plethora of post-translational modifications, including phosphorylation, ubiquitination, sumoylation, acetylation and poly(ADP)-ribosylation. The Smad function has been shown to be perturbed in certain diseases such as cancer.