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Smad6 inhibits BMP/Smad1 signaling by specifically competing with the Smad4 tumor suppressor.

Hata A., Lagna G., Massague J., Hemmati-Brivanlou A.

Bone morphogenetic protein (BMP) receptors signal by phosphorylating Smad1, which then associates with Smad4; this complex moves into the nucleus and activates transcription. Here we report the existence of a natural inhibitor of this process, Smad6, a longer version of the previously reported JV15-1. In Xenopus embryos and in mammalian cells, Smad6 specifically blocks signaling by the BMP/Smad1 pathway. Smad6 inhibits BMP/Smad1 signaling without interfering with receptor-mediated phosphorylation of Smad1. Smad6 specifically competes with Smad4 for binding to receptor-activated Smad1, yielding an apparently inactive Smad1-Smad6 complex. Therefore, Smad6 selectively antagonizes BMP-activated Smad1 by acting as a Smad4 decoy.

Genes Dev. 12:186-197(1998) [PubMed] [Europe PMC]