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Gastroenterology and Hepatology - Molecular Biology - Oncology - Surgery

Decreased Levels of Active SMAD2 Correlate with Poor Prognosis in Gastric Cancer
Published: Monday, April 23, 2012
Author: Yijun Wu et al.

by Yijun Wu, Qi Li, Xinhui Zhou, Jiren Yu, Yunchuan Mu, Stefan Munker, Chengfu Xu, Zhe Shen, Roman Müllenbach, Yan Liu, Li Li, Norbert Gretz, Derek Zieker, Jun Li, Kouichi Matsuzaki, Youming Li, Steven Dooley, Honglei Weng


TGF-ß plays a dual role in the progression of human cancer. During the early stages of carcinogenesis, TGF-ß functions as a tumor suppressor. During the late stages of tumor development, however, TGF-ß can promote tumor growth and metastasis. A shift in Smad2/3 phosphorylation from the carboxy terminus to linker sites is a key event determining biological function of TGF-ß in colorectal and hepatocellular carcinoma. In the present study, we investigated the potential role of differential Smad2/3 phosphorylation in gastric adenocarcinoma.


Immunohistochemical staining with anti-P-Smad2/3C and P-Smad2/3L antibodies was performed on 130 paraffin-embedded gastric adenocarcinoma specimens. The relationship between P-Smad2/3C and P-Smad2/3L immunohistochemical score and clinicopathologic characteristics of patients was analyzed. Real time PCR was used to measure mRNA expression of Smad2 and Smad3 in cancer and surrounding non-tumor tissue.

Principal Findings

No significant P-Smad2L and/or P-Smad3L positive staining was detected in the majority of specimens (positive staining in 18/130 samples). Positive P-Smad2/3L staining was not associated with a decrease in carboxyterminal phosphorylation staining. Loss of P-Smad2C remarkably correlated with depth of tumor infiltration and poor differentiation of cancer cells in patients with gastric cancer. No correlation was detectable between P-Smad3C and clinicopathologic characteristics of gastric adenocarcinoma. However, co-staining analysis revealed that P-Smad3C co-localised with a-SMA and collagen I in gastric cancer cells, indicating a potential link between P-Smad3C and epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition of cancer. Real time PCR demonstrated reduced mRNA expression of Smad2 in gastric cancer when compared with surrounding non-tumor tissue in 15/16 patients.


Loss of P-Smad2C tightly correlated with cancer invasion and poor differentiation in gastric cancer. Contrary to colorectal and hepatocellular carcinoma, canonical carboxy-terminal phosphorylation, but not linker phosphorylation, of Smad2 is critical for gastric cancer.