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PDCD4 is a CSL associated protein with a transcription repressive function in cancer associated fibroblast activation

Seung-Hee Jo, Dong Eun Kim, Andrea Clocchiatti and G. Paolo Dotto _

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Oncotarget. 2016; 7:58717-58727. https://doi.org/10.18632/oncotarget.11227

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Seung-Hee Jo1,2, Dong Eun Kim3, Andrea Clocchiatti1,2 and G. Paolo Dotto1,3

1 Cutaneous Biology Research Center, Massachusetts General Hospital, Charlestown, MA, USA

2 Department of Dermatology, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA, USA

3 Department of Biochemistry, University of Lausanne, Epalinges, CH, Switzerland

Correspondence to:

G. Paolo Dotto, email:

Keywords: PDCD4, Notch/CSL signaling, transcription repression, squamous cancer, CAFs

Received: May 12, 2016 Accepted: July 22, 2016 Published: August 11, 2016


The Notch/CSL pathway plays an important role in skin homeostasis and carcinogenesis. CSL, the key effector of canonical Notch signaling endowed with an intrinsic transcription repressive function, suppresses stromal fibroblast senescence and Cancer Associated Fibroblast (CAF) activation through direct down-modulation of key effector genes. Interacting proteins that participate with CSL in this context are as yet to be identified. We report here that Programmed Cell Death 4 (PDCD4), a nuclear/cytoplasmic shuttling protein with multiple functions, associates with CSL and plays a similar role in suppressing dermal fibroblast senescence and CAF activation. Like CSL, PDCD4 is down-regulated in stromal fibroblasts of premalignant skin actinic keratosis (AKs) lesions and squamous cell carcinoma (SCC). While devoid of intrinsic DNA binding capability, PDCD4 is present at CSL binding sites of CAF marker genes as well as canonical Notch/CSL targets and suppresses expression of these genes in a fibroblast-specific manner. Thus, we propose that PDCD4 is part of the CSL repressive complex involved in negative control of stromal fibroblasts conversion into CAFs.

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