Wang Y, Davidow L, Arvanites AC, Blanchard J, Lam K, Xu K, Oza V, Yoo JW, Ng JM, Curran T, Rubin LL, McMahon AP. 2012. Glucocorticoid compounds modify smoothened localization and hedgehog pathway activity. Chemistry & biology. 19(8):972-82. Pubmed: 22921064 DOI:10.1016/j.chembiol.2012.06.012


The Hedgehog signaling pathway is linked to a variety of diseases, notably a range of cancers. The first generation of drug screens identified Smoothened (Smo), a membrane protein essential for signaling, as an attractive drug target. Smo localizes to the primary cilium upon pathway activation, and this transition is critical for the response to Hedgehog ligands. In a high content screen directly monitoring Smo distribution in Hedgehog-responsive cells, we identified different glucocorticoids as specific modulators of Smo ciliary accumulation. One class promoted Smo accumulation, conferring cellular hypersensitivity to Hedgehog stimulation. In contrast, a second class inhibited Smo ciliary localization and signaling activity by both wild-type Smo, and mutant forms of Smo, SmoM2, and SmoD473H, that are refractory to previously identified Smo antagonists. These findings point to the potential for developing glucocorticoid-based pharmacological modulation of Smo signaling to treat mutated drug-resistant forms of Smo, an emerging problem in long-term cancer therapy. They also raise a concern about potential crosstalk of glucocorticoid drugs in the Hedgehog pathway, if therapeutic administration exceeds levels associated with on-target transcriptional mechanisms of glucocorticoid action.
Copyright © 2012 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

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Lee Rubin investigates the key molecular mediators of different neurodegenerative diseases, with the ultimate goal of finding effective preclinical therapeutic candidates.

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