Smoothened (SMO) regulates insulin-like growth factor 1 receptor (IGF1R) levels and protein kinase B (AKT) localization and signaling

Nitin K. Agarwal, Chae Hwa Kim, Kranthi Kunkalla, Amineh Vaghefi, Sandra Sanchez, Samantha Manuel, Daniel Bilbao, Francisco Vega, Ralf Landgraf

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The oncoprotein Smoothened (SMO), a Frizzled-class-G-protein-coupled receptor, is the central transducer of hedgehog (Hh) signaling. While canonical SMO signaling is best understood in the context of cilia, evidence suggests that SMO has other functions in cancer biology that are unrelated to canonical Hh signaling. Herein, we provided evidence that elevated levels of human SMO show a strong correlation with elevated levels of insulin-like growth factor 1 receptor (IGF1R) and reduced survival in diffuse large B-cell lymphoma (DLBCL). As an integral component of raft microdomains, SMO plays a fundamental role in maintaining the levels of IGF1R in lymphoma and breast cancer cells as well IGF1R-associated activation of protein kinase B (AKT). Silencing of SMO increases lysosomal degradation and favors a localization of IGF1R to late endosomal compartments instead of early endosomal compartments from which much of the receptor would normally recycle. In addition, loss of SMO interferes with the lipid raft localization and retention of the remaining IGF1R and AKT, thereby disrupting the primary signaling context for IGF1R/AKT. This activity of SMO is independent of its canonical signaling and represents a novel and clinically relevant contribution to signaling by the highly oncogenic IGF1R/AKT signaling axis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalLaboratory Investigation
StateAccepted/In press - 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


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