Quantitative relationships between SMAD dynamics and target gene activation kinetics in single live cells

The transduction of extracellular signals through signaling pathways that culminate in a transcriptional response is central to many biological processes. However, quantitative relationships between activities of signaling pathway components and transcriptional output of target genes remain poorly explored. Here we developed a dual bioluminescence imaging strategy allowing simultaneous monitoring of nuclear translocation of the SMAD4 and SMAD2 transcriptional activators upon TGF-beta stimulation, and the transcriptional response of the endogenous connective tissue growth factor (ctgf) gene. Using cell lines allowing to vary exogenous SMAD4/2 expression levels, we performed quantitative measurements of the temporal profiles of SMAD4/2 translocation and ctgf transcription kinetics in hundreds of individual cells at high temporal resolution. We found that while nuclear translocation efficiency had little impact on initial ctgf transcriptional activation, high total cellular SMAD4 but not SMAD2 levels increased the probability of cells to exhibit a sustained ctgf transcriptional response. The approach we present here allows time-resolved single cell quantification of transcription factor dynamics and transcriptional responses and thereby sheds light on the quantitative relationship between SMADs and target gene responses.

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Scientific Reports, 9, 5372
Mar 29 2019

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 Record created 2019-04-11, last modified 2020-04-16

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