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[Online ahead of print]

TGF-β Orchestrates Fibrogenic and Developmental EMTs via the RAS Effector RREB1

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TGF-β Orchestrates Fibrogenic and Developmental EMTs via the RAS Effector RREB1

Jie Su et al. Nature.

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Abstract

Epithelial-to-mesenchymal transitions (EMTs) are phenotypic plasticity processes that confer migratory and invasive properties to epithelial cells during development, wound-healing, fibrosis and cancer1-4. EMTs are driven by SNAIL, ZEB and TWIST transcription factors5,6 together with microRNAs that balance this regulatory network7,8. Transforming growth factor β (TGF-β) is a potent inducer of developmental and fibrogenic EMTs4,9,10. Aberrant TGF-β signalling and EMT are implicated in the pathogenesis of renal fibrosis, alcoholic liver disease, non-alcoholic steatohepatitis, pulmonary fibrosis and cancer4,11. TGF-β depends on RAS and mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) pathway inputs for the induction of EMTs12-19. Here we show how these signals coordinately trigger EMTs and integrate them with broader pathophysiological processes. We identify RAS-responsive element binding protein 1 (RREB1), a RAS transcriptional effector20,21, as a key partner of TGF-β-activated SMAD transcription factors in EMT. MAPK-activated RREB1 recruits TGF-β-activated SMAD factors to SNAIL. Context-dependent chromatin accessibility dictates the ability of RREB1 and SMAD to activate additional genes that determine the nature of the resulting EMT. In carcinoma cells, TGF-β-SMAD and RREB1 directly drive expression of SNAIL and fibrogenic factors stimulating myofibroblasts, promoting intratumoral fibrosis and supporting tumour growth. In mouse epiblast progenitors, Nodal-SMAD and RREB1 combine to induce expression of SNAIL and mesendoderm-differentiation genes that drive gastrulation. Thus, RREB1 provides a molecular link between RAS and TGF-β pathways for coordinated induction of developmental and fibrogenic EMTs. These insights increase our understanding of the regulation of epithelial plasticity and its pathophysiological consequences in development, fibrosis and cancer.

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