Disruption of the TGF-β pathway is associated with liver fibrosis and suppression of liver tumorigenesis, conditions associated with low Vitamin D (VD) levels. However, potential contributions of VD to liver tumor progression in the context of TGF-β signaling remain unexplored. Our analyses of VD deprivation (VDD) in in vivo models of liver tumor formation revealed striking three-fold increases in tumor burden in Smad3(+/-) mice, with a three-fold increase in TLR7 expression compared to controls. ChIP and transcriptional assays confirm Smad3 binding at two TLR7 promoter SBE sites. Molecular interactions between TGF-β pathway and VDD were validated clinically, where an absence of VD supplementation was associated with low TGF-β pathway member expression levels and β-catenin activation in fibrotic/cirrhotic human liver tissues. Subsequent supplementing VD led to restoration of TGF-β member expression with lower β-catenin levels. Bioinformatics analysis provides positive supportive correlation between somatic mutations for VD-related genes and the TGF-β pathway. We conclude that VDD promotes tumor growth in the context of Smad3 disruption, potentially through regulation of TLR7 expression and β-catenin activation. VD could therefore be a strong candidate for liver cancer prevention in the context of aberrant Smad3 signaling.
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Chen, J., Katz, L., Muñoz, N., Gu, S., Shin, J., Mishra, L., & +13 additional authors (2016). Vitamin D Deficiency Promotes Liver Tumor Growth in Transforming Growth Factor-β/Smad3-Deficient Mice Through Wnt and Toll-like Receptor 7 Pathway Modulation.. Scientific Reports, 6 (). http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/srep30217