Positive and negative regulation of type II TGF-beta receptor signal transduction by autophosphorylation on multiple serine residues

EMBO J. 1997 Apr 15;16(8):1970-81. doi: 10.1093/emboj/16.8.1970.


The type II transforming growth factor-beta (TGF-beta) receptor Ser/Thr kinase (TbetaRII) is responsible for the initiation of multiple TGF-beta signaling pathways, and loss of its function is associated with many types of human cancer. Here we show that TbetaRII kinase is regulated intricately by autophosphorylation on at least three serine residues. Ser213, in the membrane-proximal segment outside the kinase domain, undergoes intra-molecular autophosphorylation which is essential for the activation of TbetaRII kinase activity, activation of TbetaRI and TGF-beta-induced growth inhibition. In contrast, phosphorylation of Ser409 and Ser416, located in a segment corresponding to the substrate recognition T-loop region in a three-dimensional structural model of protein kinases, is enhanced by receptor dimerization and can occur via an intermolecular mechanism. Phosphorylation of Ser409 is essential for TbetaRII kinase signaling, while phosphorylation of Ser416 inhibits receptor function. Mutation of Ser416 to alanine results in a hyperactive receptor that is better able than wild-type to induce TbetaRI activation and subsequent cell cycle arrest. Since on a single receptor either Ser409 or Ser416, but not both simultaneously, can become autophosphorylated, our results show that TbetaRII phosphorylation is regulated intricately and affects TGF-beta receptor signal transduction both positively and negatively.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Activin Receptors, Type I*
  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • B-Lymphocytes
  • Carcinoma, Hepatocellular
  • Cell Line
  • Cytoplasm / enzymology
  • Dimerization
  • Humans
  • Kidney
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Mutation
  • Phosphorylation
  • Protein-Serine-Threonine Kinases / metabolism*
  • Receptor, Transforming Growth Factor-beta Type I
  • Receptor, Transforming Growth Factor-beta Type II
  • Receptors, Transforming Growth Factor beta / metabolism*
  • Serine / metabolism*
  • Signal Transduction / physiology*
  • Tumor Cells, Cultured


  • Receptors, Transforming Growth Factor beta
  • Serine
  • Protein-Serine-Threonine Kinases
  • Activin Receptors, Type I
  • Receptor, Transforming Growth Factor-beta Type I
  • Receptor, Transforming Growth Factor-beta Type II