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Open Access Research article

TGFβ1 enhances MAD1 expression and stimulates promoter-bound Pol II phosphorylation: basic functions of C/EBP, SP and SMAD3 transcription factors

Nadine Hein12, Kan Jiang13, Christian Cornelissen1 and Bernhard Lüscher1*

Author Affiliations

1 Institute of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Medical School, RWTH Aachen University, 52057 Aachen, Germany

2 Peter MacCallum Cancer Center, Growth Control and Differentiation Program, Laboratory of Growth Control, Melbourne, Australia

3 Laboratory of Cellular Oncology, Center for Cancer Research, National Cancer Institute, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD, USA

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BMC Molecular Biology 2011, 12:9  doi:10.1186/1471-2199-12-9

Published: 23 February 2011



The MAD1 protein, a member of the MYC/MAX/MAD network of transcriptional regulators, controls cell proliferation, differentiation and apoptosis. MAD1 functions as a transcriptional repressor, one direct target gene being the tumor suppressor PTEN. Repression of this gene is critical to mediate the anti-apoptotic function of MAD1. Under certain conditions it also antagonizes the functions of the oncoprotein MYC. Previous studies have demonstrated that MAD1 expression is controlled by different cytokines and growth factors. Moreover we have recently demonstrated that the MAD1 promoter is controlled by the cytokine granulocyte colony-stimulating factor (G-CSF) through the activation of STAT3, MAP kinases and C/EBP transcription factors.


We observed that in addition to G-CSF, the cytokine transforming growth factor β (TGFβ1) rapidly induced the expression of MAD1 mRNA and protein in promyelocytic tumor cells. Moreover we found that C/EBP and SP transcription factors cooperated in regulating the expression of MAD1. This cooperativity was dependent on the respective binding sites in the proximal promoter, with the CCAAT boxes being bound by C/EBPα/β heterodimers. Both C/EBP and SP transcription factors bound constitutively to DNA without obvious changes in response to TGFβ1. In addition SMAD3 stimulated the MAD1 reporter, cooperated with C/EBPα and was bound to the core promoter region. Thus SMAD3 appears to be a potential link between TGFβ1 signaling and C/EBP regulated promoter activity. Moreover TGFβ1 stimulated the phosphorylation of polymerase II at serine 2 and its progression into the gene body, consistent with enhanced processivity.


Our findings suggest that C/EBP and SP factors provide a platform of transcription factors near the core promoter of the MAD1 gene that participate in mediating signal transduction events emanating from different cytokine receptors. SMAD3, a target of TGFβ1 signaling, appears to be functionally relevant. We suggest that a key event induced by TGFβ1 at the MAD1 promoter is the recruitment or activation of cofactors, possibly in complex with C/EBP, SP, and SMAD3 transcriptional regulators, that control polymerase activity.