Transforming growth factor beta-1 (TGF-beta) acts as both a tumour suppressor and a tumour promoter in a context-dependent manner. The tumour-promoting activities of TGF-beta are likely to result from a combination of Smad and non-Smad signalling pathways but remain poorly understood. Here we show that TGF-beta-mediated activation of RhoA is dependent on the kinase activity of ALK5 and that continuous ALK5 activity maintains basal RhoA-ROCK signalling, cell morphology and actin dynamics in serum-starved rodent fibroblasts independently of Smad2, Smad3 and Smad4. In immortalized human diploid. broblasts, we show that oncogenic rewiring by transduction of (V12)HaRas instigates regulation of RhoA-ROCK signalling through an autocrine TGF-beta 1-ALK5 pathway. Furthermore, we show that ALK5-mediated activation of RhoA is required for efficient (V12)HaRas, V-Raf and (V600E)BRAF transformation and (V12)HaRas-mediated anchorage-independent growth. These findings identify a new pro-oncogenic activity of TGF-beta and indicate that tumours harbouring (V12)HaRas and (V600E)BRAF mutations may be susceptible to TGF-beta signalling inhibitors.
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