Syntenin regulates TGF-β1-induced Smad activation and the epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition by inhibiting caveolin-mediated TGF-β type I receptor internalization

Oncogene. 2016 Jan 21;35(3):389-401. doi: 10.1038/onc.2015.100. Epub 2015 Apr 20.


Syntenin, a tandem PDZ domain containing scaffold protein, functions as a positive regulator of cancer cell progression in several human cancers. We report here that syntenin positively regulates transforming growth factor (TGF)-β1-mediated Smad activation and the epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition (EMT) by preventing caveolin-1-mediated internalization of TGF-β type I receptor (TβRI). Knockdown of syntenin suppressed TGF-β1-mediated cell migration, transcriptional responses and Smad2/3 activation in various types of cells; however, overexpression of syntenin facilitated TGF-β1-mediated responses. In particular, syntenin knockdown abolished both the basal and TGF-β1-mediated repression of E-cadherin expression, as well as induction of vimentin expression along with Snail and Slug upregulation; thus, blocking the TGF-β1-induced EMT in A549 cells. In contrast, overexpression of syntenin exhibited the opposite effect. Knockdown of syntenin-induced ubiquitination and degradation of TβRI, but not TGF-β type II receptor, leading to decreased TβRI expression at the plasma membrane. Syntenin associated with TβRI at its C-terminal domain and a syntenin mutant lacking C-terminal domain failed to increase TGF-β1-induced responses. Biochemical analyzes revealed that syntenin inhibited the interaction between caveolin-1 and TβRI and knockdown of syntenin induced a massive internalization of TβRI and caveolin-1 from lipid rafts, indicating that syntenin may increase TGF-β signaling by inhibiting caveolin-1-dependent internalization of TβRI. Moreover, a positive correlation between syntenin expression and phospho-Smad2 levels is observed in human lung tumors. Taken together, these findings demonstrate that syntenin may act as an important positive regulator of TGF-β signaling by regulating caveolin-1-mediated internalization of TβRI; thus, providing a novel function for syntenin that is linked to cancer progression.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Caveolin 1 / genetics*
  • Caveolin 1 / metabolism
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Cell Movement / genetics
  • Epithelial-Mesenchymal Transition / genetics
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Neoplastic
  • Gene Knockdown Techniques
  • Humans
  • Lung Neoplasms / genetics*
  • Lung Neoplasms / pathology
  • Phosphorylation
  • Protein-Serine-Threonine Kinases / biosynthesis
  • Protein-Serine-Threonine Kinases / genetics*
  • Receptor, Transforming Growth Factor-beta Type I
  • Receptor, Transforming Growth Factor-beta Type II
  • Receptors, Transforming Growth Factor beta / biosynthesis
  • Receptors, Transforming Growth Factor beta / genetics*
  • Signal Transduction
  • Smad2 Protein / genetics
  • Syntenins / genetics*
  • Syntenins / metabolism
  • Transforming Growth Factor beta1 / genetics*
  • Transforming Growth Factor beta1 / metabolism
  • Ubiquitination


  • Caveolin 1
  • Receptors, Transforming Growth Factor beta
  • SMAD2 protein, human
  • Smad2 Protein
  • Syntenins
  • Transforming Growth Factor beta1
  • Protein-Serine-Threonine Kinases
  • Receptor, Transforming Growth Factor-beta Type I
  • Receptor, Transforming Growth Factor-beta Type II