[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Epigenetics is an emerging field that demands selective cell-permeable chemical probes to perturb, especially in vivo, the activity of specific enzymes involved in modulating the epigenetic codes. Coactivator-associated arginine methyltransferase 1 (CARM1) is a coactivator of estrogen receptor α (ERα), the main target in human breast cancer. We previously showed that twofold overexpression of CARM1 in MCF7 breast cancer cells increased the expression of ERα-target genes involved in differentiation and reduced cell proliferation, thus leading to the hypothesis that activating CARM1 by chemical activators might be therapeutically effective in breast cancer. Selective, potent, cell-permeable CARM1 activators will be essential to test this hypothesis. Here we report the development of a cell-based, time-resolved (TR) FRET assay that uses poly(A) binding protein 1 (PABP1) methylation to monitor cellular activity of CARM1. The LanthaScreen TR-FRET assay uses MCF7 cells expressing GFP-PABP1 fusion protein through BacMam gene delivery system, methyl-PABP1 specific antibody, and terbium-labeled secondary antibody. This assay has been validated as reflecting the expression and/or activity of CARM1 and optimized for high throughput screening to identify CARM1 allosteric activators. This TR-FRET platform serves as a generic tool for functional screening of cell-permeable, chemical modulators of CARM1 for elucidation of its in vivo functions.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Although two classes of antivirals, NA inhibitors and M2 ion channel blockers, are licensed for influenza treatment, dual resistant mutants, including highly pathogenic H5N1 viruses, have appeared. Alternative treatment options are, therefore, needed. Influenza A viral RNA (vRNA) transcription/replication is a promising target for antiviral development, since it is essential for virus replication. Accordingly, an efficient and reliable method to identify vRNA transcription/replication inhibitors is desirable. Here, we developed a cell-based screening system by establishing a cell line that stably expresses influenza viral ribonucleoprotein complex (vRNP). Compound library screening using this cell line allowed us to identify a compound that inhibits vRNA transcription/replication by using reporter protein expression from virus-like RNA as a readout and virus replication in vitro. vRNP-expressing cells have potential as a simple and convenient high-throughput screening (HTS) system, and, thus, are promising to identify vRNA transcription/replication inhibitors for various RNA viruses, especially for primary screens.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Fibronectin (FN) is a plasma glycoprotein that circulates in the near micromolar concentration range and is deposited along with locally produced FN in the extracellular matrices of many tissues. The control of FN deposition is tightly controlled by cells. Agents that modulate FN assembly may be useful therapeutically in conditions characterized by excessive FN deposition, such as fibrosis, inflammatory diseases, and malignancies. To identify such agents by high throughput screening (HTS), we developed a microtiter assay of FN deposition by human fibroblasts. The assay provides a robust read-out of FN assembly. Alexa 488-FN (A488-FN) was added to cell monolayers, and the total fluorescence intensity of deposited A488-FN was quantified. The fluorescence intensity of deposited A488-FN correlated with the presence of FN fibrils visualized by fluorescence microscopy. The assay Z' values were 0.67 or 0.54, respectively, when using background values of fluorescence either with no added A488-FN or with A488-FN added together with a known inhibitor of FN deposition. The assay was used to screen libraries comprising 4160 known bioactive compounds. Nine compounds were identified as non- or low-cytotoxic inhibitors of FN assembly. Four (ML-9, HA-100, tyrphostin and imatinib mesylate) are kinase inhibitors, a category of compounds known to inhibit FN assembly; two (piperlongumine and cantharidin) are promoters of cancer cell apoptosis; and three (maprotiline, CGS12066B, and aposcopolamine) are modulators of biogenic amine signaling. The latter six compounds have not been recognized heretofore as affecting FN assembly. The assay is straight-forward, adapts to 96- and 384-well formats, and should be useful for routine measurement of FN deposition and HTS. Screening of more diverse chemical libraries and identification of specific and efficient modulators of FN fibrillogenesis may result in therapeutics to control excessive connective tissue deposition.
Matrix biology: journal of the International Society for Matrix Biology 08/2012; · 3.56 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: BACKGROUND: The dynamic process of epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition (EMT) is a causal event in kidney fibrosis. This cellular phenotypic transition involves activation of transcriptional responses and remodeling of cellular structures to change cellular function. The molecular mechanisms that directly contribute to the re-establishment of the epithelial phenotype are poorly understood. RESULTS: Here, we discuss recent studies from our group and other laboratories identifying signaling pathways leading to the reversal of EMT in fibrotic models. We also present evidence that transcriptional factors such as the ZEB proteins are important regulators for reversal of EMT. CONCLUSION: These studies provide insights into cellular plasticity and possible targets for therapeutic intervention.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Hub proteins are connected through binding interactions to many other proteins. Smad3, a mediator of signal transduction induced by transforming growth factor beta (TGF-β), serves as a hub protein for over 50 protein-protein interactions. Different cellular responses mediated by Smad3 are the product of cell-type and context dependent Smad3-nucleated protein complexes acting in concert. Our hypothesis is that perturbation of this spectrum of protein complexes by mutation of single protein-binding hot-spots on Smad3 will have distinct consequences on Smad3-mediated responses.
We mutated 28 amino acids on the surface of the Smad3 MH2 domain and identified 22 Smad3 variants with reduced binding to subsets of 17 Smad3-binding proteins including Smad4, SARA, Ski, Smurf2 and SIP1. Mutations defective in binding to Smad4, e.g., D408H, or defective in nucleocytoplasmic shuttling, e.g., W406A, were compromised in modulating the expression levels of a Smad3-dependent reporter gene or six endogenous Smad3-responsive genes: Mmp9, IL11, Tnfaip6, Fermt1, Olfm2 and Wnt11. However, the Smad3 mutants Y226A, Y297A, W326A, K341A, and E267A had distinct differences on TGF-β signaling. For example, K341A and Y226A both reduced the Smad3-mediated activation of the reporter gene by ∼50% but K341A only reduced the TGF-β inducibilty of Olfm2 in contrast to Y226A which reduced the TGF-β inducibility of all six endogenous genes as severely as the W406A mutation. E267A had increased protein binding but reduced TGF-β inducibility because it caused higher basal levels of expression. Y297A had increased TGF-β inducibility because it caused lower Smad3-induced basal levels of gene expression.
Mutations in protein binding hot-spots on Smad3 reduced the binding to different subsets of interacting proteins and caused a range of quantitative changes in the expression of genes induced by Smad3. This approach should be useful for unraveling which Smad3 protein complexes are critical for specific biological responses.
PLoS ONE 01/2011; 6(9):e25021. · 3.73 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Xenoestrogenic compounds are abundant in the modern environment including phytoestrogens from plants, chemical by-products from industry, and secondary metabolites from microbes; all can profoundly affect human health. Consequently mechanism-based screens are urgently needed to improve the rate at which the xenoestrogens are discovered. Estrogen Receptor (ER) dimerization is required for target gene transcription. The three ER dimer pairs (ERalpha/alpha homodimers, ERbeta/beta homodimers, and ERalpha/beta heterodimers) exhibit diverse physiological responses in response to ligand-dependent activation with ERalpha/alpha homodimers being pro-proliferative and ERbeta/beta homodimers being anti-proliferative. The biological role of the ERalpha/beta heterodimer remains unclear. We previously developed a cell-based, bioluminescence resonance energy transfer (BRET) assay that can distinguish natural estrogenic compounds based on their abilities to activate the three diverse ER dimer pairs. Using BRET assays, we sought to identify novel xenoestrogens from soil bacteria that preferentially activate ERalpha/beta heterodimer with hopes of shedding light on the biological function of this elusive dimer pair. Here we describe the application of BRET assays in high throughput screens of crude bacterial extracts not previously screened for ER modulatory function and originating from unique ecological niches. Here we report the discovery and biological evaluation of a new natural product, actinopolymorphol A (1), that preferentially induces ERalpha/beta dimerization. Actinopolymorphol A represents the first representative of a new ER modulatory scaffold.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Relatively high oxidative stress levels in the prostate are postulated to be a major factor for prostate carcinogenesis and prostate cancer (CaP) progression. We focused on elucidating metabolic pathways of oxidative stress generation in CaP cells. Previously, we showed that the transcription factor JunD is essential for androgen-induced reactive oxygen species (ROS) production in androgen-dependent human CaP cells. We also recently showed that androgen induces the first and regulatory enzyme spermidine/spermine N1-acetyltransferase (SSAT) in a polyamine catabolic pathway that produces copious amounts of metabolic ROS. Here, we present coimmunoprecipitation and Gaussia luciferase reconstitution assay data that show that JunD forms a complex with androgen-activated androgen receptor (AR) in situ. Our chromatin immunoprecipitation assay data show that JunD binds directly to a specific SSAT promoter sequence only in androgen-treated LNCaP cells. Using a vector containing a luciferase reporter gene connected to the SSAT promoter and a JunD-silenced LNCaP cell line, we show that JunD is essential for androgen-induced SSAT gene expression. The elucidation of JunD-AR complex inducing SSAT expression leading to polyamine oxidation establishes the mechanistic basis of androgen-induced ROS production in CaP cells and opens up a new prostate-specific target for CaP chemopreventive/chemotherapeutic drug development.
Cancer Research 06/2010; 70(11):4560-8. · 8.65 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The biosynthetic gene cluster for tautomycetin (TTN), a highly potent and selective protein phosphatase (PP) inhibitor isolated from Streptomyces griseochromogenes, has recently been cloned and sequenced. To better understand the transformations responsible for converting the post-polyketide synthase product into the exciting anticancer and immunosuppressive chemotherapeutic candidate TTN, we produced and characterized new analogues resulting from inactivation of two genes, ttnD and ttnF, in S. griseochromogenes. Inactivation of ttnD and ttnF, which encode for putative decarboxylase and dehydratase enzymes, respectively, afforded mutant strains SB13013 and SB13014. The DeltattnD mutant SB13013 accumulated four new TTN analogues, TTN D-1, TTN D-2, TTN D-3, and TTN D-4, whereas the DeltattnF mutant accumulated only one new TTN analogue, TTN F-1. The accumulation of these new TTN analogues defines the function of TtnD and TtnF and the timing of their chemistries in relation to installation of the C5 ketone moiety within TTN. Notably, all new analogues possess a structurally distinguishing carboxylic acid moiety, revealing that TtnD apparently cannot catalyze decarboxylation in the absence of TtnF. Additionally, cytotoxicity and PP inhibition assays reveal the importance of the functional groups installed by TtnDF and, consistent with earlier proposals, the C2''-C5 fragment of TTN to be a critical structural determinant behind the important and unique PP-1 selectivity displayed by TTN.
Journal of the American Chemical Society 05/2010; 132(19):6663-71. · 10.68 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Transforming growth factor beta 1 (TGF-β1) is an inhibitor of muscle cell differentiation that is associated with fibrosis, poor regeneration and poor function in some diseases of muscle. When neutralizing antibodies to TGF-β1 or the angiotensin II inhibitor losartan were used to reduce TGF-β1 signaling, muscle morphology and function were restored in mouse models of Marfan Syndrome and muscular dystrophy. The goal of our studies was to identify additional agents that overcome the anti-myogenic effect of TGF-β1.
A high-content cell-based assay was developed in a 96-well plate format that detects the expression of myosin heavy chain (MHC) in C2C12 cells. The assay was used to quantify the dose-dependent responses of C2C12 cell differentiation to TGF-β1 and to the TGF-β1 Type 1 receptor kinase inhibitor, SB431542. Thirteen agents previously described as promoting C2C12 differentiation in the absence of TGF-β1 were screened in the presence of TGF-β1. Only all-trans retinoic acid and 9-cis retinoic acid allowed a maximal level of C2C12 cell differentiation in the presence of TGF-β1; the angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitor captopril and 10 nM estrogen provided partial rescue. Vitamin D was a potent inhibitor of retinoic acid-induced myogenesis in the presence of TGF-β1. TGF-β1 inhibits myoblast differentiation through activation of Smad3; however, retinoic acid did not inhibit TGF-β1-induced activation of a Smad3-dependent reporter gene in C2C12 cells.
Retinoic acid alleviated the anti-myogenic effect of TGF-β1 by a Smad3-independent mechanism. With regard to the goal of improving muscle regeneration and function in individuals with muscle disease, the identification of retinoic acid is intriguing in that some retinoids are already approved for human therapy. However, retinoids also have well-described adverse effects. The quantitative, high-content assay will be useful to screen for less-toxic retinoids or combinations of agents that promote myoblast differentiation in the presence of TGF-β1.
PLoS ONE 01/2010; 5(11):e15511. · 3.73 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Epithelial to Mesenchymal Transition (EMT) induced by Transforming Growth Factor-beta (TGF-beta) is an important cellular event in organogenesis, cancer, and organ fibrosis. The process to reverse EMT is not well established. Our purpose is to define signaling pathways and transcription factors that maintain the TGF-beta-induced mesenchymal state.
Inhibitors of five kinases implicated in EMT, TGF-beta Type I receptor kinase (TbetaRI), p38 mitogen-activated protein kinase (p38 MAPK), MAP kinase kinase/extracellular signal-regulated kinase activator kinase (MEK1), c-Jun NH-terminal kinase (JNK), and Rho kinase (ROCK), were evaluated for reversal of the mesenchymal state induced in renal tubular epithelial cells. Single agents did not fully reverse EMT as determined by cellular morphology and gene expression. However, exposure to the TbetaRI inhibitor SB431542, combined with the ROCK inhibitor Y27632, eliminated detectable actin stress fibers and mesenchymal gene expression while restoring epithelial E-cadherin and Kidney-specific cadherin (Ksp-cadherin) expression. A second combination, the TbetaRI inhibitor SB431542 together with the p38 MAPK inhibitor SB203580, was partially effective in reversing EMT. Furthermore, JNK inhibitor SP600125 inhibits the effectiveness of the TbetaRI inhibitor SB431542 to reverse EMT. To explore the molecular basis underlying EMT reversal, we also targeted the transcriptional repressors ZEB1 and ZEB2/SIP1. Decreasing ZEB1 and ZEB2 expression in mouse mammary gland cells with shRNAs was sufficient to up-regulate expression of epithelial proteins such as E-cadherin and to re-establish epithelial features. However, complete restoration of cortical F-actin required incubation with the ROCK inhibitor Y27632 in combination with ZEB1/2 knockdown.
We demonstrate that reversal of EMT requires re-establishing both epithelial transcription and structural components by sustained and independent signaling through TbetaRI and ROCK. These findings indicate that combination small molecule therapy targeting multiple kinases may be necessary to reverse disease conditions.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Cellular senescence is a persistently growth-arrested phenotype in normal and transformed cells induced by noncytotoxic stress. Cytostasis as a method of cancer treatment has recently generated significant interest. Research into the induction of cellular senescence as cancer therapy has been hindered by a lack of compounds that efficiently induce this response. The authors describe a semiautomated high-throughput method to identify library compounds that induce senescence using prostate cancer cells cultured in 96-well plates. Primary hits are identified by low cell numbers after 3 days in culture, measured by Hoechst 33342 fluorescence. A secondary visual assessment of senescence-associated beta-galactosidase staining and cellular morphology in the same wells distinguishes senescence from quiescence, apoptosis, and other false positives. This method was used to screen a 4160-compound library of known bioactive compounds and natural products at a 10-microM dose. Candidate compounds were further selected based on persistent growth arrest after drug removal and increased expression of previously described senescence marker genes. Four lead compounds not previously associated with senescence were identified for further investigation. This is the first successful assay to identify novel agents from compound libraries based on senescence induction in cancer cells.
Journal of Biomolecular Screening 08/2009; 14(7):853-8. · 2.21 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The biosynthetic gene cluster for tautomycin (TTM), a potent protein phosphatase (PP) inhibitor has recently been characterized. Inactivation of ttmM, which encodes a putative C3' hydroxylase, afforded mutant SB6005 which accumulated three new 3'-deshydroxy TTM analogs, supporting the function of TtmM and the previously proposed linear pathway for TTM biosynthesis. Bioassays reveal the importance of the C3' OH moiety in PP inhibition and that PP inhibition is not the exclusive mechanism driving TTM-induced cell death.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Migrastatin (1), iso-migrastatin (5) and lactimidomycin (7) are all glutarimide-containing polyketides known for their unique structures and cytotoxic activities against human cancer cell lines. Migrastatin, a strong inhibitor of tumor cell migration, has been an important lead in the development of antimetastatic agents. Yet studies of the related 12-membered macrolides iso-migrastatin, lactimidomycin, and related analogues have been hampered by their limited availability. We report here the production, isolation, structural characterization, and biological activities of iso-migrastatin, lactimidomycin, and 23 related congeners. Our studies showed that, as a family, the glutarimide-containing 12-membered macrolides are extremely potent cell migration inhibitors with some members displaying activity on par or superior to that of migrastatin as exemplified by compounds 5, 7, and 9-12. On the basis of these findings, the structures and activity of this family of compounds as cell migration inhibitors are discussed.
Journal of the American Chemical Society 02/2009; 131(4):1370-1. · 10.68 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Lactimidomycin (LTM, 1), iso-migrastatin (iso-MGS, 2) and migrastatin (MGS, 3) are macrolide antitumor antibiotics differing in macrolide ring size but all bearing a glutarimide side chain. To further develop these natural products and related analogs as drug candidates we have produced and evaluated the biological activities of a small library of iso-MGS and LTM-derived agents; congeners evaluated bear either the MGS scaffold or related acyclic (dorrigocin) scaffolds. Scratch wound-healing (SWH) assays with 4T1 mouse and MDA-MB-231 human mammary tumor cell lines, respectively, reveal structural elements crucial to inhibition of cell migration by these compounds. Moreover, two substances, 14 and 17, with activity far superior to that of MGS are unveiled by SWH assays.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The MAGE-A, MAGE-B, and MAGE-C protein families comprise the class-I MAGE/cancer testes antigens, a group of highly homologous proteins whose expression is suppressed in all normal tissues except developing sperm. Aberrant expression of class I MAGE proteins occurs in melanomas and many other malignancies, and MAGE proteins have long been recognized as tumor-specific targets; however, their functions have largely been unknown. Here, we show that suppression of class I MAGE proteins induces apoptosis in the Hs-294T, A375, and S91 MAGE-positive melanoma cell lines and that members of all three families of MAGE class I proteins form complexes with KAP1, a scaffolding protein that is known as a corepressor of p53 expression and function. In addition to inducing apoptosis, MAGE suppression decreases KAP1 complexing with p53, increases immunoreactive and acetylated p53, and activates a p53 responsive reporter gene. Suppression of class I MAGE proteins also induces apoptosis in MAGE-A-positive, p53wt/wt parental HCT 116 colon cancer cells but not in a MAGE-A-positive HCT 116 p53-/- variant, indicating that MAGE suppression of apoptosis requires p53. Finally, treatment with MAGE-specific small interfering RNA suppresses S91 melanoma growth in vivo, in syngenic DBA2 mice. Thus, class I MAGE protein expression may suppress apoptosis by suppressing p53 and may actively contribute to the development of malignancies and by promoting tumor survival. Because the expression of class I MAGE proteins is limited in normal tissues, inhibition of MAGE antigen expression or function represents a novel and specific treatment for melanoma and diverse malignancies.
Cancer Research 11/2007; 67(20):9954-62. · 8.65 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The c-myc protooncogene is a key regulator of cell proliferation whose expression is reduced in normal epithelial cells in response to the growth inhibitory cytokine TGF-beta. Smad4 mediates this inhibitory effect of TGF-beta by forming a complex with Smad3, E2F4/5, and p107 at the TGF-beta inhibitory element (TIE) element on the c-myc promoter. In contrast, cell proliferation and c-myc expression are increased in response to Wnt ligands; this effect is mediated through the lymphoid enhancer-binding factor 1/T cell-specific factor (LEF/TCF) family of transcription factors on the c-myc promoter LEF/TCF-binding elements (TBE1 and TBE2). We report that a peptide aptamer designed to inhibit the binding between Smad4 and LEF/TCF reduced c-myc expression and the growth rate of HepG2 cells. Further analysis demonstrated that, in the absence of TGF-beta, Smad4 was bound to the positive regulatory element TBE1 from the c-myc promoter and activated c-myc promoter activity. Smad4 binding to the positive TBE1 c-myc element was reduced by TGF-beta, consistent with Smad4's inhibitory role on c-myc expression in response to TGF-beta. Reduction of Smad4 levels by RNAi knockdown also reduced c-myc expression levels and sensitized hepatocytes to cell death by serum deprivation. Two tumor-derived mutant Smad4 proteins that fail to mediate TGF-beta responses were still competent to cooperate with LEF1 to activate the c-myc promoter. These results support a previously unreported TGF-beta-independent function for Smad4 in cooperating with LEF/TCF to activate c-myc expression.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 01/2007; 103(49):18580-5. · 9.74 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The reaction of 70 unprotected, diversely functionalized free reducing sugars with methoxyamine-appended colchicine led to the production of a 58-member glycorandomized library. High-throughput cytotoxicity assays revealed glycosylation to modulate specificity and potency. Library members were also identified which, unlike the parent natural product (a destabilizer), stabilized in vitro tubulin polymerization in a manner similar to taxol. This study highlights a simple extension of neoglycorandomization toward amine-bearing scaffolds and the potential benefit of glycosylating nonglycosylated natural products.
Journal of the American Chemical Society 12/2006; 128(44):14224-5. · 10.68 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Overexpression of the inhibitory Smad, Smad7, is used frequently to implicate the Smad pathway in cellular responses to transforming growth factor beta (TGF-beta) signaling; however, Smad7 regulates several other proteins, including Cdc42, p38MAPK, and beta-catenin. We report an alternative approach for more specifically disrupting Smad-dependent signaling using a peptide aptamer, Trx-SARA, which comprises a rigid scaffold, the Escherichia coli thioredoxin A protein (Trx), displaying a constrained 56-amino acid Smad-binding motif from the Smad anchor for receptor activation (SARA) protein. Trx-SARA bound specifically to Smad2 and Smad3 and inhibited both TGF-beta-induced reporter gene expression and epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition in NMuMG murine mammary epithelial cells. In contrast to Smad7, Trx-SARA had no effect on the Smad2 or 3 phosphorylation levels induced by TGF-beta1. Trx-SARA was primarily localized to the nucleus and perturbed the normal cytoplasmic localization of Smad2 and 3 to a nuclear localization in the absence of TGF-beta1, consistent with reduced Smad nuclear export. The key mode of action of Trx-SARA was to reduce the level of Smad2 and Smad3 in complex with Smad4 after TGF-beta1 stimulation, a mechanism of action consistent with the preferential binding of SARA to monomeric Smad protein and Trx-SARA-mediated disruption of active Smad complexes.
Molecular Biology of the Cell 10/2006; 17(9):3819-31. · 4.60 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Glycosylated natural products are reliable platforms for the development of many front-line drugs, yet our understanding of the relationship between attached sugars and biological activity is limited by the availability of convenient glycosylation methods. When a universal chemical glycosylation method that employs reducing sugars and requires no protection or activation is used, the glycorandomization of digitoxin leads to analogs that display significantly enhanced potency and tumor specificity and suggests a divergent mechanistic relationship between cardiac glycoside-induced cytotoxicity and Na+/K+-ATPase inhibition. This report highlights the remarkable advantages of glycorandomization as a powerful tool in glycobiology and drug discovery.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 09/2005; 102(35):12305-10. · 9.74 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Transforming growth factor beta (TGF-beta) stimulation results in the assembly of Smad-containing protein complexes that mediate activation or repression of TGF-beta responsive genes. To determine if disruption of specific Smad protein-protein interactions would selectively inhibit responses to TGF-beta or generally interfere with Smad-dependent signaling, we developed three Smad-binding peptide aptamers by introducing Smad interaction motifs from Smad-binding proteins CBP, FoxH1 and Lef1 into the scaffold protein E. coli thioredoxin A (Trx). All three classes of aptamers bound to Smads by GST pulldown assays and co-immunoprecipitation from mammalian cells. Expression of the aptamers in HepG2 cells did not generally inhibit Smad-dependent signaling as evaluated using seven TGF-beta responsive luciferase reporter genes. The Trx-xFoxH1b aptamer inhibited TGF-beta-induced expression from a reporter dependent on the Smad-FoxH1 interaction, A3-lux, by 50%. Trx-xFoxH1b also partially inhibited two reporters not dependent on a Smad-FoxH1 interaction, 3TP-lux and Twntop, and endogenous PAI-1 expression. Trx-Lef1 aptamer only inhibited expression of the Smad-Lef1 responsive reporter gene TwnTop. The Trx-CBP aptamer had no significant effect on reporter gene expression. The results suggest that Smad-binding peptide aptamers can be developed to selectively inhibit TGF-beta-induced gene expression.