Research ArticleBiochemistry

TGF-β promotes PI3K-AKT signaling and prostate cancer cell migration through the TRAF6-mediated ubiquitylation of p85α

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Sci. Signal.  04 Jul 2017:
Vol. 10, Issue 486, eaal4186
DOI: 10.1126/scisignal.aal4186

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The TGF-β–PI3K connection

TGF-β signaling stimulates various intracellular pathways that can promote migration in tumor cells. These pathways are generally thought to be either dependent or independent of transcription factors called SMADs. One of the SMAD-independent pathways (PI3K-AKT) is mediated by a direct interaction between PI3K and the TGF-β type I receptor. However, Hamidi et al. found that the TGF-β–induced activation of PI3K depends on another ubiquitin ligase–mediated mechanism and a SMAD protein but is independent of the kinase function of TβRI. The binding of TGF-β to its receptor triggered the recruitment of PI3K and the ubiquitin ligase TRAF6, which polyubiquitylated the regulatory PI3K subunit p85α, thus enabling phosphorylation of the catalytic PI3K subunit p110, but only in the presence of SMAD7. The abundance of ubiquitylated p85α correlated with migration in cultured cells and prostate tumor grade in patient samples. TRAF6 mediates activation of the other “SMAD-independent” (JNK) pathway. These data suggest that, although distinct, the TGF-β signaling pathways are not as insulated from each other as was once thought.