Reciprocal SOX2 regulation by SMAD1-SMAD3 is critical for anoikis resistance and metastasis in cancer

Academic Article


  • Growth factors in tumor environments are regulators of cell survival and metastasis. Here, we reveal the dichotomy between TGF-β superfamily growth factors BMP and TGF-β/activin and their downstream SMAD effectors. Gene expression profiling uncovers SOX2 as a key contextual signaling node regulated in an opposing manner by BMP2, -4, and -9 and TGF-β and activin A to impact anchorage-independent cell survival. We find that SOX2 is repressed by BMPs, leading to a reduction in intraperitoneal tumor burden and improved survival of tumor-bearing mice. Repression of SOX2 is driven by SMAD1-dependent histone H3K27me3 recruitment and DNA methylation at SOX2’s promoter. Conversely, TGF-β, which is elevated in patient ascites, and activin A can promote SOX2 expression and anchorage-independent survival by SMAD3-dependent histone H3K4me3 recruitment. Our findings identify SOX2 as a contextual and contrastingly regulated node downstream of TGF-β members controlling anchorage-independent survival and metastasis in ovarian cancers.
  • Published In

  • Cell Reports  Journal
  • Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Shonibare Z; Monavarian M; O'Connell K; Altomare D; Shelton A; Mehta S; Jaskula-Sztul R; Phaeton R; Starr MD; Whitaker R
  • Volume

  • 40
  • Issue

  • 4