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1.  Activation of Stat3 through a Phosphomimetic Serine727 Promotes Prostate Tumorigenesis Independent of Tyrosine705 phosphorylation 
Cancer research  2008;68(19):7736-7741.
Aberrantly activated Stat3 is implicated in the development of various human cancers. Y705 phosphorylation is conventionally thought to be required for Stat3 signal-dependent activation and appears to play an essential role in some malignancies. Recently, it was shown that Stat3 is activated through novel and non-canonical mechanisms, including phosphorylation at S727. Here, we investigate S727 phosphorylation activation of Stat3 and subsequent effects in prostate cancer development, independent of Y705 phosphorylation, using mutated Stat3 in the human prostate cancer cell line LNCaP. We demonstrate mutation of S727 to the phosphomimetic residue Glu and inactivation of Y705 (Y705F/S727E) resulted in a remarkable growth advantage in low-serum, enhanced anchorage-independent growth in soft agar and increased tumorgenicity in NOD/SCID mice, possibly by direct activation of downstream proto-oncogenes c-myc, mcl-1 and survivin. Y705F/S727E mutant cells were more invasive than Y705F/S727A (inactivation of Y705 and S727) mutant cells, and more Y705F/S727E mutant Stat3 was localized in the nuclei relative to Y705F/S727A mutant Stat3 at the steady-state. Furthermore, the Y705F/S727E but not the Y705F/S727A mutant induced anchorage-independent growth of noncancerous prostate epithelial cells (RWPE-1). We further show that Stat3 is phosphorylated at S727 in 65% of malignant prostate tissues (n=20) relative to 25% of normal prostate tissues (n=4). Moreover, there is a positive correlation between phosphoS727-Stat3 expression and Gleason score in these prostate cancer tissues (P = 0.05). Our data suggests for the first time that S727 phosphorylation is sufficient to activate Stat3, thereby driving prostate tumorigenesis independent of Y705 phosphorylation.
PMCID: PMC2859454  PMID: 18829527
Stat3; Tyr705; Ser727; phosphorylation; prostate cancer
2.  Signal Transducer and Activator of Transcription-3, Inflammation, and Cancer 
Signal transducer and activator of transcription-3 (STAT-3) is one of six members of a family of transcription factors. It was discovered almost 15 years ago as an acute-phase response factor. This factor has now been associated with inflammation, cellular transformation, survival, proliferation, invasion, angiogenesis, and metastasis of cancer. Various types of carcinogens, radiation, viruses, growth factors, oncogenes, and inflammatory cytokines have been found to activate STAT-3. STAT-3 is constitutively active in most tumor cells but not in normal cells. Phosphorylation of STAT-3 at tyrosine 705 leads to its dimerization, nuclear translocation, DNA binding, and gene transcription. The phosphorylation of STAT-3 at serine 727 may regulate its activity negatively or positively. STAT-3 regulates the expression of genes that mediate survival (survivin, bcl-xl, mcl-1, cellular FLICE-like inhibitory protein), proliferation (c-fos, c-myc, cyclin D1), invasion (matrix metalloproteinase-2), and angiogenesis (vascular endothelial growth factor). STAT-3 activation has also been associated with both chemoresistance and radioresistance. STAT-3 mediates these effects through its collaboration with various other transcription factors, including nuclear factor-κB, hypoxia-inducible factor-1, and peroxisome proliferator activated receptor-γ. Because of its critical role in tumorigenesis, inhibitors of this factor’s activation are being sought for both prevention and therapy of cancer. This has led to identification of small peptides, oligonucleotides, and small molecules as potential STAT-3 inhibitors. Several of these small molecules are chemo-preventive agents derived from plants. This review discusses the intimate relationship between STAT-3, inflammation, and cancer in more detail.
PMCID: PMC3141289  PMID: 19723038
STAT-3; inflammation; cancer; chemoresistance
3.  Dominant-negative activity of the STAT3-Y705F mutant depends on the N-terminal domain 
STAT3 is a transcription factor of central importance in chronic inflammation and cancer. In response to cytokine stimulation STAT3 is phosphorylated on a single tyrosine residue at position 705, dimerizes and accumulates in the nucleus to induce target gene expression. The substitution of tyrosine 705 to phenylalanine leads to a dominant-negative STAT3 mutant (STAT3-YF) which influences the activation of WT-STAT3 in stimulated cells through a mechanism that is not completely understood. In this study we analyzed the molecular mechanism of STAT3-YF dominant-negative activity in IL-6-induced STAT3 signaling and the relevance of the N-terminal domain.
Expression of STAT3-YF-YFP impairs tyrosine phosphorylation, nuclear translocation and the transcriptional activity of WT-STAT3 in IL-6-stimulated cells. The fluorescently labelled STAT3-YF mutant binds to a phosphorylated gp130 receptor-peptide comparable to WT-STAT3-YFP. STAT3-YF-YFP forms homodimers as well as heterodimers with WT-STAT3 in the presence and absence of IL-6. The preformed heterodimers in unstimulated cells are detectable by colocalization of STAT3-CFP with STAT3-YF-YFP fused to a nuclear localization signal. STAT3/STAT3-YF heterodimers are not able to bind to DNA in stimulated cells, but the presence of the mutant reduces DNA-binding of WT-STAT3 homodimers. STAT3-YF-ΔN-YFP lacking the N-terminal domain forms no dimers and only marginally affects the activity of WT-STAT3.
Our findings demonstrate that dominant-negative STAT3-YF affects the activation of WT-STAT3 at multiple levels. Unexpectedly, the N-terminal domain of STAT3-YF plays an important role for the dominant-negative effect. We show that (i) STAT3-YF competes with WT-STAT3 in binding to activated gp130-receptors, (ii) the formation of WT-STAT3/STAT3-YF heterodimers in IL-6-stimulated cells results in inactive, semiphosphorylated dimers which do not bind to DNA and thus fail to induce target gene expression, (iii) the N-terminal domain-mediated formation of preformed STAT3/STAT3-YF heterodimers in unstimulated cells which affects the IL-6-induced homodimerization of WT-STAT3 contributes to the dominant-negative effect of STAT3-YF. These findings will contribute to our understanding of naturally occuring dominant-negative STAT3 mutants that cause the hyper-IgE syndrome.
PMCID: PMC3833267  PMID: 24192293
JAK-STAT signaling; STAT3; IL-6; STAT3-YF mutant; Dominant-negative; Hyper-IgE syndrome (HIES)
4.  Molecular Determinants of NF-κB-Inducing Kinase Action 
Molecular and Cellular Biology  1998;18(10):5899-5907.
NF-κB corresponds to an inducible eukaryotic transcription factor complex that is negatively regulated in resting cells by its physical assembly with a family of cytoplasmic ankyrin-rich inhibitors termed IκB. Stimulation of cells with various proinflammatory cytokines, including tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-α), induces nuclear NF-κB expression. TNF-α signaling involves the recruitment of at least three proteins (TRADD, RIP, and TRAF2) to the type 1 TNF-α receptor tail, leading to the sequential activation of the downstream NF-κB-inducing kinase (NIK) and IκB-specific kinases (IKKα and IKKβ). When activated, IKKα and IKKβ directly phosphorylate the two N-terminal regulatory serines within IκBα, triggering ubiquitination and rapid degradation of this inhibitor in the 26S proteasome. This process liberates the NF-κB complex, allowing it to translocate to the nucleus. In studies of NIK, we found that Thr-559 located within the activation loop of its kinase domain regulates NIK action. Alanine substitution of Thr-559 but not other serine or threonine residues within the activation loop abolishes its activity and its ability to phosphorylate and activate IKKα. Such a NIK-T559A mutant also dominantly interferes with TNF-α induction of NF-κB. We also found that ectopically expressed NIK both spontaneously forms oligomers and displays a high level of constitutive activity. Analysis of a series of NIK deletion mutants indicates that multiple subregions of the kinase participate in the formation of these NIK-NIK oligomers. NIK also physically assembles with downstream IKKα; however, this interaction is mediated through a discrete C-terminal domain within NIK located between amino acids 735 and 947. When expressed alone, this C-terminal NIK fragment functions as a potent inhibitor of TNF-α-mediated induction of NF-κB and alone is sufficient to disrupt the physical association of NIK and IKKα. Together, these findings provide new insights into the molecular basis for TNF-α signaling, suggesting an important role for heterotypic and possibly homotypic interactions of NIK in this response.
PMCID: PMC109176  PMID: 9742107
5.  Effect of ethanol on innate antiviral pathways and HCV replication in human liver cells 
Virology Journal  2005;2:89.
Alcohol abuse reduces response rates to IFN therapy in patients with chronic hepatitis C. To model the molecular mechanisms behind this phenotype, we characterized the effects of ethanol on Jak-Stat and MAPK pathways in Huh7 human hepatoma cells, in HCV replicon cell lines, and in primary human hepatocytes. High physiological concentrations of acute ethanol activated the Jak-Stat and p38 MAPK pathways and inhibited HCV replication in several independent replicon cell lines. Moreover, acute ethanol induced Stat1 serine phosphorylation, which was partially mediated by the p38 MAPK pathway. In contrast, when combined with exogenously applied IFN-α, ethanol inhibited the antiviral actions of IFN against HCV replication, involving inhibition of IFN-induced Stat1 tyrosine phosphorylation. These effects of alcohol occurred independently of i) alcohol metabolism via ADH and CYP2E1, and ii) cytotoxic or cytostatic effects of ethanol. In this model system, ethanol directly perturbs the Jak-Stat pathway, and HCV replication.
Infection with Hepatitis C virus is a significant cause of morbidity and mortality throughout the world. With a propensity to progress to chronic infection, approximately 70% of patients with chronic viremia develop histological evidence of chronic liver diseases including chronic hepatitis, cirrhosis, and hepatocellular carcinoma. The situation is even more dire for patients who abuse ethanol, where the risk of developing end stage liver disease is significantly higher as compared to HCV patients who do not drink [1,2].
Recombinant interferon alpha (IFN-α) therapy produces sustained responses (ie clearance of viremia) in 8–12% of patients with chronic hepatitis C [3]. Significant improvements in response rates can be achieved with IFN plus ribavirin combination [4-6] and pegylated IFN plus ribavirin [7,8] therapies. However, over 50% of chronically infected patients still do not clear viremia. Moreover, HCV-infected patients who abuse alcohol have extremely low response rates to IFN therapy [9], but the mechanisms involved have not been clarified.
MAPKs play essential roles in regulation of differentiation, cell growth, and responses to cytokines, chemokines and stress. The core element in MAPK signaling consists of a module of 3 kinases, named MKKK, MKK, and MAPK, which sequentially phosphorylate each other [10]. Currently, four MAPK modules have been characterized in mammalian cells: Extracellular Regulated Kinases (ERK1 and 2), Stress activated/c-Jun N terminal kinase (SAPK/JNK), p38 MAP kinases, and ERK5 [11]. Interestingly, ethanol modulates MAPKs [12]. However, information on how ethanol affects MAPKs in the context of innate antiviral pathways such as the Jak-Stat pathway in human cells is extremely limited.
When IFN-α binds its receptor, two receptor associated tyrosine kinases, Tyk2 and Jak1 become activated by phosphorylation, and phosphorylate Stat1 and Stat2 on conserved tyrosine residues [13]. Stat1 and Stat2 combine with the IRF-9 protein to form the transcription factor interferon stimulated gene factor 3 (ISGF-3), which binds to the interferon stimulated response element (ISRE), and induces transcription of IFN-α-induced genes (ISG). The ISGs mediate the antiviral effects of IFN. The transcriptional activities of Stats 1, 3, 4, 5a, and 5b are also regulated by serine phosphorylation [14]. Phosphorylation of Stat1 on a conserved serine amino acid at position 727 (S727), results in maximal transcriptional activity of the ISGF-3 transcription factor complex [15]. Although cross-talk between p38 MAPK and the Jak-Stat pathway is essential for IFN-induced ISRE transcription, p38 does not participate in IFN induction of Stat1 serine phosphorylation [14,16-19]. However, cellular stress responses induced by stimuli such as ultraviolet light do induce p38 MAPK mediated Stat1 S727 phosphorylation [18].
In the current report, we postulated that alcohol and HCV proteins modulate MAPK and Jak-Stat pathways in human liver cells. To begin to address these issues, we characterized the interaction of acute ethanol on Jak-Stat and MAPK pathways in Huh7 cells, HCV replicon cells lines, and primary human hepatocytes.
PMCID: PMC1318489  PMID: 16324217
HCV; IFN; virus-host interactions; signal transduction; alcohol
6.  Progestins Induce Transcriptional Activation of Signal Transducer and Activator of Transcription 3 (Stat3) via a Jak- and Src-Dependent Mechanism in Breast Cancer Cells 
Molecular and Cellular Biology  2005;25(12):4826-4840.
Interactions between steroid hormone receptors and signal transducer and activator of transcription (Stat)-mediated signaling pathways have already been described. In the present study, we explored the capacity of progestins to modulate Stat3 transcriptional activation in an experimental model of hormonal carcinogenesis in which the synthetic progestin medroxyprogesterone acetate (MPA) induced mammary adenocarcinomas in BALB/c mice and in the human breast cancer cell line T47D. We found that C4HD epithelial cells, from the MPA-induced mammary tumor model, expressed Stat3 and that MPA treatment of C4HD cells up-regulated Stat3 protein expression. In addition, MPA induced rapid, nongenomic Stat3, Jak1, and Jak2 tyrosine phosphorylation in C4HD and T47D cells. MPA treatment of C4HD cells also resulted in rapid c-Src tyrosine phosphorylation. These effects were completely abolished by the progestin antagonist RU486. Abrogation of Jak1 and Jak2 activity by transient transfection of C4HD cells with dominant negative (DN) Jak1 or DN Jak2 vectors, or inhibition of Src activity by preincubation of cells with the Src family kinase inhibitor PP2, blocked the capacity of MPA to induce Stat3 phosphorylation. Treatment of C4HD cells with MPA induced Stat3 binding to DNA. In addition, MPA promoted strong Stat3 transcriptional activation in C4HD and T47D cells that was inhibited by RU486 and by blockage of Jak1, Jak2, and Src activities. To investigate the correlation between MPA-induced Stat3 activation and cell growth, C4HD cells were transiently transfected with a DN Stat3 expression vector, Stat3Y705-F, or with a constitutively activated Stat3 mutant, Stat3-C. While expression of Stat3Y705-F mutant had an inhibitory effect on MPA-induced growth of C4HD cells, transfection with the constitutively activated Stat3-C vector resulted in MPA-independent proliferation. Finally, we addressed the effect of targeting Stat3 in in vivo growth of C4HD breast tumors. Blockage of Stat3 activation by transfection of C4HD cells with the DN Stat3Y705-F expression vector significantly inhibited these cells' ability to form tumors in syngeneic mice. Our results have for the first time demonstrated that progestins are able to induce Stat3 transcriptional activation, which is in turn an obligatory requirement for progestin stimulation of both in vitro and in vivo breast cancer growth.
PMCID: PMC1140598  PMID: 15923602
7.  Kaposi's Sarcoma-Associated Herpesvirus Kaposin B Induces Unique Monophosphorylation of STAT3 at Serine 727 and MK2-Mediated Inactivation of the STAT3 Transcriptional Repressor TRIM28 
Journal of Virology  2013;87(15):8779-8791.
Kaposi's sarcoma-associated herpesvirus (KSHV) is the etiologic agent of primary effusion lymphoma (PEL), multicentric Castleman's disease (MCD), and the inflammation-driven neoplasm Kaposi's sarcoma (KS). A triad of processes, including abnormal proliferation of endothelial cells, aberrant angiogenesis, and chronic inflammation, characterize KS lesions. STAT3 is a key transcription factor governing these processes, and deregulation of STAT3 activity is linked to a wide range of cancers, including PEL and KS. Using primary human endothelial cells (ECs), I demonstrate that KSHV infection modulated STAT3 activation in two ways: (i) KSHV induced uncoupling of canonical tyrosine (Y) and serine (S) phosphorylation events while (ii) concomitantly inducing the phosphorylation and inactivation of TRIM28 (also known as KAP-1 or TIF-1β), a newly identified negative regulator of STAT3 activity. KSHV infection of primary ECs induced chronic STAT3 activation characterized by a shift from the canonical dual P-STAT3 Y705 S727 form to a mono P-STAT3 S727 form. Expression of the latent protein kaposin B promoted the unique phosphorylation of STAT3 at S727, in the absence of Y705, activated the host kinase mitogen-activated protein kinase-activated protein (MAPKAP) kinase 2 (MK2), and stimulated increased expression of STAT3-dependent genes, including CCL5, in ECs. TRIM28-mediated repression of STAT3 is relieved by phosphorylation of S473, and in vitro kinase assays identified TRIM28 S473 as a bona fide target of MK2. Together, these data suggest that kaposin B significantly contributes to the chronic inflammatory environment that is a hallmark of KS by unique activation of the proto-oncogene STAT3, coupled with MK2-mediated inactivation of the STAT3 transcriptional repressor TRIM28.
PMCID: PMC3719813  PMID: 23740979
8.  Signal transducer and activator of transcription 5b: a new target of breast tumor kinase/protein tyrosine kinase 6 
Signal transducers and activators of transcription (STATs) are mediators of cytokine and growth factor signaling. In recent years, STAT5b has emerged as a key regulator of tumorigenesis. STAT5b phosphorylation and activation is mediated by several kinases known to be overexpressed in breast cancer, such as epidermal growth factor receptor, HER2, and c-Src. Breast tumor kinase (Brk), also known as protein tyrosine kinase 6, is a nonreceptor tyrosine kinase expressed in more than 60% of breast cancers. Only a few substrates of the Brk tyrosine kinase have been identified, the most recent being STAT3. In the present article we investigate the potential role of Brk in the phosphorylation and activation STAT5b.
To determine whether Brk can phosphorylate STAT5b, transient transfection and in vitro kinase assays were performed. Luciferase reporter assays were used to measure Brk-induced STAT5b transcriptional activity. siRNA technology was utilized to investigate the biological significance of Brk-induced activation of STAT5b in breast cancer cell models.
Phosphospecific antibodies, mutational analysis, and in vitro kinase assays demonstrated that Brk specifically mediated STAT5b phosphorylation at the activating tyrosine, Y699. Transient transfection of Brk into the Brk-negative BT-549 breast cancer cell line enhanced STAT5b transcriptional activity, as measured by a STAT5-specific luciferase reporter. Furthermore, overexpression of kinase active c-Src enhanced Brk-induced STAT5b transcriptional activity. In Brk-positive breast cancer cell lines BT-20 and SKBr3, knockdown of Brk protein or of STAT5b protein using siRNA methodology resulted in a decrease in DNA synthesis. Knockdown of Brk and STAT5b together did not further decrease DNA synthesis compared with each alone, suggesting that Brk and STAT5b converge on the same pathway, ultimately leading to cellular proliferation.
Our studies demonstrate that Brk phosphorylates STAT5b on Y699, leading to increased STAT5b transcriptional activity. Furthermore, analysis of DNA synthesis suggests that STAT5b and Brk are converging upon the same proproliferative signaling pathway in breast cancer cells. We propose that Brk, like other tyrosine kinases, signals downstream to STAT5b to mediate proliferation of breast cancer cells. These results further establish STAT5b as well as Brk as potential targets for breast cancer therapy.
PMCID: PMC2246177  PMID: 17997837
9.  STAT3 signal transduction through interleukin-22 in oral squamous cell carcinoma 
International Journal of Oncology  2012;41(5):1577-1586.
Interleukin (IL)-22 is a member of the IL-10 family. Its main targets are epithelial cells, not immune cells. We examined IL-22 signal transduction in oral squamous cell carcinoma (OSCC) cells. Immunohistochemical staining revealed that IL-22R was expressed more highly in OSCC compared to normal regions. An IL-22R signal was also observed in metastatic OSCC cells in the lymph node. RT-PCR showed that the human OSCC cell lines MISK81-5, HSC-3, HSC-4, SAS and SQUU-B expressed IL-22 receptor chains. Immunoblotting showed that IL-22 induced a transient tyrosine phosphorylation of STAT3 (pY705-STAT3) in MISK81-5 cells. The change in the serine phosphorylation of STAT3 was subtle during the examination periods. Simultaneously, pY705-STAT3 activation in HSC-3 cells was undetectable after IL-22 stimulation. Immunocytochemistry demonstrated that IL-22 induced the translocation of phosphorylated STAT3 into the nucleus of MISK81-5 cells. IL-22 temporarily upregulated the expression of anti-apoptotic and mitogenic genes such as Bcl-x, survivin and c-Myc, as well as SOCS3. IL-22 transiently activated ERK1/2 and induced a delayed phosphorylation of p38 MAP kinase, but negligibly involved the activation of NF-κB in MISK81-5 cells. MISK81-5 and SQUU-B cells treated with IL-22 showed mild cellular proliferation. MISK81-5, HSC-4 and SAS cells treated with IL-22 downregulated the keratinocyte differentiation-related genes compared with unstimulated cells. Conversely, STAT3 suppression by STAT3 siRNA strongly disrupted the down-regulation of these genes by IL-22, but it did not significantly affect the activation of ERK1/2 by IL-22. The OSCC cells used in this study upregulated the expression of SERPINB3/4 (SCCA1/2), well-known SCC markers, following treatment with IL-22. These results indicate that IL-22 differentially activates the STAT3 signaling system depending on the type of OSCC. IL-22 may therefore play a role in tumor growth, cell differentiation and progression through STAT3-dependent and -independent pathways.
PMCID: PMC3583669  PMID: 22922995
IL-22; squamous cell carcinoma; STAT3; cell differentiation
10.  Activation of Peroxisome Proliferator–Activated Receptor-β/-δ (PPAR-β/-δ) Ameliorates Insulin Signaling and Reduces SOCS3 Levels by Inhibiting STAT3 in Interleukin-6–Stimulated Adipocytes 
Diabetes  2011;60(7):1990-1999.
It has been suggested that interleukin (IL)-6 is one of the mediators linking obesity-derived chronic inflammation with insulin resistance through activation of STAT3, with subsequent upregulation of suppressor of cytokine signaling 3 (SOCS3). We evaluated whether peroxisome proliferator–activated receptor (PPAR)-β/-δ prevented activation of the IL-6-STAT3-SOCS3 pathway and insulin resistance in adipocytes.
Adipocytes and white adipose tissue from wild-type and PPAR-β/-δ-null mice were used to evaluate the effect of PPAR-β/-δ on the IL-6-STAT3-SOCS3 pathway.
First, we observed that the PPAR-β/-δ agonist GW501516 prevented both IL-6–dependent reduction in insulin-stimulated Akt phosphorylation and glucose uptake in adipocytes. In addition, this drug treatment abolished IL-6–induced SOCS3 expression in differentiated 3T3-L1 adipocytes. This effect was associated with the capacity of the drug to prevent IL-6–induced STAT3 phosphorylation on Tyr705 and Ser727 residues in vitro and in vivo. Moreover, GW501516 prevented IL-6–dependent induction of extracellular signal–related kinase (ERK)1/2, a serine-threonine-protein kinase involved in serine STAT3 phosphorylation. Furthermore, in white adipose tissue from PPAR-β/-δ–null mice, STAT3 phosphorylation (Tyr705 and Ser727), STAT3 DNA-binding activity, and SOCS3 protein levels were higher than in wild-type mice. Several steps in STAT3 activation require its association with heat shock protein 90 (Hsp90), which was prevented by GW501516 as revealed in immunoprecipitation studies. Consistent with this finding, the STAT3-Hsp90 association was enhanced in white adipose tissue from PPAR-β/-δ–null mice compared with wild-type mice.
Collectively, our findings indicate that PPAR-β/-δ activation prevents IL-6–induced STAT3 activation by inhibiting ERK1/2 and preventing the STAT3-Hsp90 association, an effect that may contribute to the prevention of cytokine-induced insulin resistance in adipocytes.
PMCID: PMC3121427  PMID: 21617181
11.  Propofol mediates signal transducer and activator of transcription 3 activation and crosstalk with phosphoinositide 3-kinase/AKT 
JAK-STAT  2014;3:e29554.
We previously demonstrated that propofol, an intravenous anesthetic with anti-oxidative properties, activated the phosphoinositide 3-kinase (PI3K)/AKT pathway to increase the expression of B cell lymphoma (Bcl)-2 and, therefore the anti-apoptotic potential on cardiomyocytes. Here, we wanted to determine if propofol can also activate the Janus kinase (JAK) 2/signal transducer and activator of transcription (STAT) 3 pathway, another branch of cardioprotective signaling. The cellular response of nuclear factor kappa B (NFκB) and STAT3 was also evaluated. Cardiac H9c2 cells were treated by propofol alone or in combination with pretreatment by inhibitors for JAK2/STAT3 or PI3K/AKT pathway. STAT3 and AKT phosphorylation, and STAT3 translocation were measured by western blotting and immunofluorescence staining, respectively. Propofol treatment significantly increased STAT3 phosphorylation at both tyrosine 705 and serine 727 residues. Sustained early phosphorylation of STAT3 was observed with 25~75 μM propofol at 10 and 30 min. Nuclear translocation of STAT3 was seen at 4 h after treatment with 50 μM propofol. In cultured H9c2 cells, we further demonstrated that propofol-induced STAT3 phosphorylation was reduced by pretreatment with PI3K/AKT pathway inhibitors wortmannin or API-2. Conversely, pretreatment with JAK2/STAT3 pathway inhibitor AG490 or stattic inhibited propofol-induced AKT phosphorylation. In addition, propofol induced NFκB p65 subunit perinuclear translocation. Inhibition or knockdown of STAT3 was associated with increased levels of the NFκB p65 subunit. Our results suggest that propofol induces an adaptive response by dual activation and crosstalk of cytoprotective PI3K/AKT and JAK2/STAT3 pathways. Rationale to apply propofol clinically as a preemptive cardioprotectant during cardiac surgery is supported by our findings.
PMCID: PMC4124059  PMID: 25105067
propofol; cardioprotection; signal transduction; PI3K/AKT; JAK2/STAT3; crosstalk
12.  Mitochondrial Localized STAT3 Is Involved in NGF Induced Neurite Outgrowth 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(6):e21680.
Signal transducer and activator of transcription 3 (STAT3) plays critical roles in neural development and is increasingly recognized as a major mediator of injury response in the nervous system. Cytokines and growth factors are known to phosphorylate STAT3 at tyrosine705 with or without the concomitant phosphorylation at serine727, resulting in the nuclear localization of STAT3 and subsequent transcriptional activation of genes. Recent evidence suggests that STAT3 may control cell function via alternative mechanisms independent of its transcriptional activity. Currently, the involvement of STAT3 mono-phosphorylated at residue serine727 (P-Ser-STAT3) in neurite outgrowth and the underlying mechanism is largely unknown.
Principal Findings
In this study, we investigated the role of nerve growth factor (NGF) induced P-Ser-STAT3 in mediating neurite outgrowth. NGF induced the phosphorylation of residue serine727 but not tyrosine705 of STAT3 in PC12 and primary cortical neuronal cells. In PC12 cells, serine but not tyrosine dominant negative mutant of STAT3 was found to impair NGF induced neurite outgrowth. Unexpectedly, NGF induced P-Ser-STAT3 was localized to the mitochondria but not in the nucleus. Mitochondrial STAT3 was further found to be intimately involved in NGF induced neurite outgrowth and the production of reactive oxygen species (ROS).
Taken together, the findings herein demonstrated a hitherto unrecognized novel transcription independent mechanism whereby the mitochondria localized P-Ser-STAT3 is involved in NGF induced neurite outgrowth.
PMCID: PMC3124549  PMID: 21738764
13.  Gambogic Acid Inhibits STAT3 Phosphorylation Through Activation of Protein Tyrosine Phosphatase SHP-1: Potential Role in Proliferation and Apoptosis 
The transcription factor, signal transducer and activator of transcription 3 (STAT3), is associated with proliferation, survival, and metastasis of cancer cells. We investigated whether gambogic acid (GA), a xanthone derived from the resin of traditional Chinese medicine, Gamboge hanburyi (mangosteen), can regulate the STAT3 pathway, leading to suppression of growth and sensitization of cancer cells. We found that GA induced apoptosis in human multiple myeloma cells that correlated with the inhibition of both constitutive and inducible STAT3 activation. STAT3 phosphorylation at both tyrosine residue 705 and serine residue 727 was inhibited by GA. STAT3 suppression was mediated through the inhibition of activation of the protein tyrosine kinases Janus-activated kinase (JAK) 1, and JAK2. Treatment with the protein tyrosine phosphatase (PTP) inhibitor pervanadate reversed the GA-induced down-regulation of STAT3, suggesting the involvement of a PTP. We also found that GA induced the expression of the PTP SHP-1. Deletion of the SHP-1 gene by small interfering RNA suppressed the ability of GA to inhibit STAT3 activation and to induce apoptosis, suggesting the critical role of SHP-1 in its action. Moreover, GA down-regulated the expression of STAT3-regulated antiapoptotic (Bcl-2, Bcl-xL, and Mcl-1), proliferative (cyclin D1), and angiogenic (VEGF) proteins, and this correlated with suppression of proliferation and induction of apoptosis. Overall, these results suggest that GA blocks STAT3 activation, leading to suppression of tumor cell proliferation and induction of apoptosis.
PMCID: PMC3131433  PMID: 21490133
Gambogic acid; STAT3; Apoptosis; Proliferation; Cancer
14.  Adenosine Blocks IFN-γ-Induced Phosphorylation of STAT1 on Serine 727 to Reduce Macrophage Activation1 
Macrophages are activated by IFN-γ, a proinflammatory and proatherogenic cytokine that mediates its downstream effects primarily through STAT1. IFN-γ signaling induces phosphorylation of two STAT1 residues: Tyr701 (Y701), which facilitates dimerization, nuclear translocation, and DNA binding; and Ser727 (S727), which enables maximal STAT1 transcription activity. Immunosuppressive molecules such as adenosine in the cellular microenvironment can reduce macrophage inflammatory and atherogenic functions through receptor-mediated signaling pathways. We hypothesized that adenosine achieves these protective effects by interrupting IFN-γ signaling in activated macrophages. This investigation demonstrates that adding adenosine to IFN-γ-stimulated murine RAW 264.7 and human THP-1 macrophages results in unique modulation of STAT1 serine and tyrosine phosphorylation events. We show that adenosine inhibits IFN-γ-induced STAT1 S727 phosphorylation by >30% and phosphoserine-mediated transcriptional activity by 58% but has no effect on phosphorylation of Y701 or receptor-associated JAK tyrosine kinases. Inhibition of the adenosine A3 receptor with a subtype-specific antagonist (MRS 1191 in RAW 264.7 cells and MRS 1220 in THP-1 cells) reverses this adenosine suppressive effect on STAT1 phosphoserine status by 25–50%. Further, RAW 264.7 A3 receptor stimulation with Cl-IB-MECA reduces IFN-γ-induced STAT1 transcriptional activity by 45% and STAT1-dependent gene expression by up to 80%. These data suggest that A3 receptor signaling is key to adenosine-mediated STAT1 modulation and anti-inflammatory action in IFN-γ-activated mouse and human macrophages. Because STAT1 plays a key role in IFN-γ-induced inflammation and foam cell transformation, a better understanding of the mechanisms underlying STAT1 deactivation by adenosine may improve preventative and therapeutic approaches to vascular disease.
PMCID: PMC2916018  PMID: 19846878
15.  The cardioprotective effects of urocortin are mediated via activation of the Src tyrosine kinase-STAT3 pathway 
JAK-STAT  2013;2(3):e24812.
Src tyrosine kinase family was recently identified as a novel upstream modulator of MAP kinase subfamily, p42/p44, whose activation is required for urocortin (Ucn)-mediated cardioprotection. Src kinase was also shown to reduce apoptosis in different cancer cell lines, enhancing phosphorylation and DNA binding affinity of signal transducer and activator of transcription (STAT)3. In order to evaluate the effects of Ucn on the activation status of different STAT family members, HL-1 cardiac cells were incubated with Ucn (10 nM) for increasing periods of time. STAT3 was rapidly phosphorylated at Tyr705, while neither phosphorylation at Ser727 nor induction of total STAT3 was observed. Pretreatment with PP2, a selective inhibitor of Src tyrosine kinase, reduced the pSTAT−T705 phosphorylation and transcriptional activity induced by Ucn in a dose-dependent manner. Overexpression of STAT3 in HL-1 cardiac myocytes pretreated with Ucn reduced the magnitude of cell death as compared with Ucn treatment alone, while transfection of HL-1 cells with a STAT3 mutant functionally inactive, acting as a dominant negative (DN-STAT3), enhanced the extent of cell death in a dose-dependent manner. In line with this finding, in HL-1 cardiac myocytes overexpressing STAT3 treated with Ucn, addition of the Src kinase inhibitor PP2 reversed the cytoprotective effects of Ucn, proving that the cytoprotective effects of Ucn are also mediated via the Src-pSTAT−T705 phosphorylation pathway. By immunocytochemistry, Ucn induced nuclear translocation of pST3-T705, which was inhibited by pretreatment with PP2. Together, these data strongly suggest that Ucn can mediate cardioprotection by activating the Src-pSTAT-T705 phosphorylation pathway.
PMCID: PMC3772114  PMID: 24069562
STAT3; cardioprotection; ischemia/reperfusion injury; signal transduction; urocortin
16.  Sorafenib inhibits growth and metastasis of hepatocellular carcinoma by blocking STAT3 
AIM: To investigate the inhibitory role and the underlying mechanisms of sorafenib on signal transducer and activator of transcription 3 (STAT3) activity in hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC).
METHODS: Human and rat HCC cell lines were treated with sorafenib. Proliferation and STAT3 dephosphorylation were assessed. Potential molecular mechanisms of STAT3 pathway inhibition by sorafenib were evaluated. In vivo antitumor action and STAT3 inhibition were investigated in an immunocompetent orthotopic rat HCC model.
RESULTS: Sorafenib decreased STAT3 phosphorylation at the tyrosine and serine residues (Y705 and S727), but did not affect Janus kinase 2 (JAK2) and phospha-tase shatterproof 2 (SHP2), which is associated with growth inhibition in HCC cells. Dephosphorylation of S727 was associated with attenuated extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK) phosphorylation, similar to the effects of a mitogen-activated protein kinase (MEK) inhibitor U0126, suggesting that sorafenib induced S727 dephosphorylation by inhibiting MEK/ERK signaling. Meanwhile, sorafenib could also inhibit Akt phosphorylation, and both the phosphatidylinositol-3-kinase (PI3K) inhibitor LY294002 and Akt knockdown resulted in Y705 dephosphorylation, indicating that Y705 dephosphorylation by sorafenib was mediated by inhibiting the PI3K/Akt pathway. Finally, in the rat HCC model, sorafenib significantly inhibited STAT3 activity, reducing tumor growth and metastasis.
CONCLUSION: Sorafenib inhibits growth and metastasis of HCC in part by blocking the MEK/ERK/STAT3 and PI3K/Akt/STAT3 signaling pathways, but independent of JAK2 and SHP2 activation.
PMCID: PMC3198022  PMID: 22025881
Hepatocellular carcinoma; Sorafenib; Signal transducer and activator of transcription 3; Extracellular signal regulated kinase; Akt
17.  Inhibition of Stat3 Activation by Sanguinarine Suppresses Prostate Cancer Cell Growth and Invasion 
The Prostate  2011;72(1):82-89.
Signal transducer and activator of transcription 3 (Stat3) is an oncogenic transcriptional factor that plays a critical role in carcinogenesis and cancer progression and is a potential therapeutic target. Sanguinarine, a benzophenanthridine alkaloid derived primarily from the bloodroot plant, was identified previously as a novel inhibitor of survivin that selectively kills prostate cancer cells over “normal” prostate epithelial cells.
DU145, C4-2B, and LNCaP cells were treated with sanguinarine. The phosphorylation status of Stat3 and related proteins were measured with Western blots. Activation of transcription by Stat3 was measured with luciferase reporter assay. The effect of sanguinarine on anchorage-independent growth was examined with soft agar assay, and on cell migration and invasion of DU145 cells were measured with scratch assay and invasion assay, respectively.
In this study, we identified sanguinarine as a potent inhibitor of Stat3 activation which was able to suppress prostate cancer growth, migration, and invasion. Sanguinarine inhibits constitutive as well as IL6-induced phosphorylation of Stat3 at both Tyr705 and Ser727 in prostate cancer cells. The inhibition of Stat3 phosphorylation by sanguinarine correlates with reduction of Janus-activated Kinase 2 (Jak2) and Src phosphorylation. Sanguinarine downregulates the expression of Stat3-mediated genes such as c-myc and survivin and inhibits the Stat3 responsive element luciferase reporter activity. Sanguinarine inhibits the anchorage-independent growth of DU145 and LN-S17 cells expressing constitutively activated Stat3. Migration and invasion abilities of DU145 cells were also inhibited by sanguinarine in a manner similar to the dominant negative form of Stat3.
These data demonstrate that sanguinarine is a potent Stat3 inhibitor and it could be developed as a therapeutic agent for prostate cancer with constitutive activation of Stat3.
PMCID: PMC3938016  PMID: 21538419
prostate cancer; Stat3; sanguinarine; invasion
18.  Division of labor by dual feedback regulators controls JAK2/STAT5 signaling over broad ligand range 
Quantitative analysis of time-resolved data in primary erythroid progenitor cells reveals that a dual negative transcriptional feedback mechanism underlies the ability of STAT5 to respond to the broad spectrum of physiologically relevant Epo concentrations.
A mathematical dual feedback model of the Epo-induced JAK2/STAT5 signaling pathway was calibrated with extensive time-resolved quantitative data sets from immunoblotting, mass spectrometry and qRT–PCR experiments in primary erythroid progenitor cells.We show that the amount of nuclear phosphorylated STAT5 integrated for 60 min post Epo stimulation directly correlates with the fraction of surviving cells 24 h later.CIS and SOCS3 were identified as the most relevant transcriptional feedback regulators of JAK2/STAT5 signaling in primary erythroid progenitor cells. Applying the model, we revealed that CIS-mediated inhibitory effects are most important at low ligand concentrations, whereas SOCS3 inhibition is more effective at high ligand doses.The distinct modes of inhibition of CIS and SOCS3 at various Epo concentrations provide a strategy for achieving control of JAK2/STAT5 signaling over the entire range of physiological Epo concentrations.
Cells interpret information encoded by extracellular stimuli through the activation of intracellular signaling networks and translate this information into cellular decisions. A prime example for a system that is exposed to extremely variable ligand concentrations is the erythroid lineage. The key regulator Erythropoietin (Epo) facilitates continuous renewal of erythrocytes at low basal levels but also secures compensation in case of, e.g., blood loss through an up to 1000-fold increase in hormone concentration. The Epo receptor (EpoR) is expressed on erythroid progenitor cells at the colony forming unit erythroid (CFU-E) stage. Stimulation of these cells with Epo leads to rapid but transient activation of receptor and JAK2 phosphorylation followed by phosphorylation of the latent transcription factor STAT5. Although STAT5 is known to be an essential regulator of survival and differentiation of erythroid progenitor cells, a quantitative link between the dynamic properties of STAT5 signaling and survival decisions remained unknown. STAT5-mediated responses in CFU-E cells are modulated by multiple attenuation mechanisms that operate on different time scales. Fast-acting mechanisms such as depletion of Epo by rapid receptor turnover and recruitment of the phosphatase SHP-1 control the initial signal amplitude at the receptor level. Transcriptional feedback regulators such as suppressor of cytokine signaling (SOCS) family members CIS and SOCS3 operate at a slower time scale. Despite the ample knowledge of the individual components involved, only little is known about the specific contributions of these regulators in controlling dynamic properties of STAT5 in response to a broad range of input signals. Therefore, dynamic pathway modeling is required to understand the complex regulatory network of feedback regulators.
To address these questions, we established a dual negative feedback model of JAK2/STAT5 signaling in primary erythroid progenitor cells isolated from mouse fetal livers. We provide a large data set of JAK2/STAT5 signaling dynamics employing quantitative immunoblotting, mass spectrometry and quantitative RT–PCR measured under different perturbation conditions to calibrate our model (Figure 3). The structure of our model was constructed to comprise the minimal number of parameters necessary to explain the data. Thereby, we aimed at a model with fully identifiable parameters that are essential to obtain high predictive power. Parameter identifiability was analyzed by the profile likelihood approach. Applying this method, we could establish a dual negative feedback model of JAK2-STAT5 signaling with structurally and in most cases practically identifiable parameters.
A major bottle-neck in combining signal transduction events with cellular phenotypes is the discrepancy in the time scale and stimuli concentrations that are applied in the different experiments. The sensitivity of biochemical assays to determine phosphorylation events within minutes or hours after stimulation is usually lower than the threshold of sensitivity in assays to determine the physiological response after one or more days. Facilitated by the model, we were able to compute the integrated response of JAK2/STAT5 signaling components for experimentally unaddressable Epo concentrations. Our results demonstrate that the integrated response of pSTAT5 in the nucleus accurately correlates with the experimentally determined survival of CFU-E cells. This provides a quantitative link of the dependency of primary CFU-E cells on pSTAT5 activation dynamics. By correlation analysis, we could identify the early signaling phase (⩽1 h) of STAT5 to be the most predictive for the fraction of surviving cells, which was determined ∼24 h later. Thus, we hypothesize that as a general principle in apoptotic decisions, ligand concentrations translated into kinetic-encoded information of early signaling events downstream of receptors can be predictive for survival decisions 24 h later.
After the first hour of stimulation, it is important to constrain signaling to a residual steady-state level. Constitutive phosphorylation of the JAK2/STAT5 pathway has a crucial role in the onset of polycythemia vera (PV), a disease associated with Epo-independent erythroid differentiation. The two identified transcriptional feedback proteins, CIS and SOCS3, are responsible for adjusting the phosphorylation level of STAT5 after 1 h of stimulation. Since the Epo input signal can vary over a broad range of ligand concentrations, we asked how CIS and SOCS3 can facilitate control of STAT5 long-term phosphorylation levels over the entire physiological relevant hormone concentrations. By using model simulations, we revealed that the two feedbacks are most effective at different Epo concentration ranges. Predicted by our mathematical model, the major role of CIS in modulating STAT5 phosphorylation levels is at low, basal Epo concentrations, whereas SOCS3 is essential to control the STAT5 phosphorylation levels at high Epo doses (Figure 6). As a potential molecular mechanism of this dose-dependent inhibitory effect, we could identify the quantity of pJAK2 relative to pEpoR that increases with higher Epo concentrations. Since SOCS3 can inhibit JAK2 directly via its KIR domain to attenuate downstream STAT5 activation, SOCS3 becomes more effective with the relative increase of JAK2 activation. Hence, CIS and SOCS3 act in a concerted manner to ensure tight regulation of STAT5 responses over the broad physiological range of Epo concentrations.
In summary, our mathematical approach provided new insights into the specific function of feedback regulation in STAT5-mediated life or death decisions of primary erythroid cells. We dissected the roles of the transcriptionally induced proteins CIS and SOCS3 that operate as dual feedback with divided function thereby facilitating the control of STAT5 activation levels over the entire range of physiological Epo concentrations. The detailed understanding of the molecular processes and control distribution of Epo-induced JAK/STAT signaling can be further applied to gain insights into alterations promoting malignant hematopoietic diseases.
Cellular signal transduction is governed by multiple feedback mechanisms to elicit robust cellular decisions. The specific contributions of individual feedback regulators, however, remain unclear. Based on extensive time-resolved data sets in primary erythroid progenitor cells, we established a dynamic pathway model to dissect the roles of the two transcriptional negative feedback regulators of the suppressor of cytokine signaling (SOCS) family, CIS and SOCS3, in JAK2/STAT5 signaling. Facilitated by the model, we calculated the STAT5 response for experimentally unobservable Epo concentrations and provide a quantitative link between cell survival and the integrated response of STAT5 in the nucleus. Model predictions show that the two feedbacks CIS and SOCS3 are most effective at different ligand concentration ranges due to their distinct inhibitory mechanisms. This divided function of dual feedback regulation enables control of STAT5 responses for Epo concentrations that can vary 1000-fold in vivo. Our modeling approach reveals dose-dependent feedback control as key property to regulate STAT5-mediated survival decisions over a broad range of ligand concentrations.
PMCID: PMC3159971  PMID: 21772264
apoptosis; erythropoietin; mathematical modeling; negative feedback; SOCS
19.  Signal Transducer and Activator of  Transcription (STAT)5 Activation by BCR/ABL Is Dependent on Intact Src Homology (SH)3 and SH2 Domains of BCR/ABL and Is Required for Leukemogenesis  
The Journal of Experimental Medicine  1999;189(8):1229-1242.
Signal transducer and activator of transcription (STAT)5 is constitutively activated in BCR/ ABL-expressing cells, but the mechanisms and functional consequences of such activation are unknown. We show here that BCR/ABL induces phosphorylation and activation of STAT5 by a mechanism that requires the BCR/ABL Src homology (SH)2 domain and the proline-rich binding site of the SH3 domain. Upon expression in 32Dcl3 growth factor–dependent myeloid precursor cells, STAT5 activation–deficient BCR/ABL SH3+SH2 domain mutants functioned as tyrosine kinase and activated Ras, but failed to protect from apoptosis induced by withdrawal of interleukin 3 and/or serum and did not induce leukemia in severe combined immunodeficiency mice. In complementation assays, expression of a dominant-active STAT5B mutant (STAT5B-DAM), but not wild-type STAT5B (STAT5B-WT), in 32Dcl3 cells transfected with STAT5 activation–deficient BCR/ABL SH3+SH2 mutants restored protection from apoptosis, stimulated growth factor–independent cell cycle progression, and rescued the leukemogenic potential in mice. Moreover, expression of a dominant-negative STAT5B mutant (STAT5B-DNM) in 32Dcl3 cells transfected with wild-type BCR/ABL inhibited apoptosis resistance, growth factor–independent proliferation, and the leukemogenic potential of these cells. In retrovirally infected mouse bone marrow cells, expression of STAT5B-DNM inhibited BCR/ABL-dependent transformation. Moreover, STAT5B-DAM, but not STAT5B-WT, markedly enhanced the ability of STAT5 activation–defective BCR/ABL SH3+SH2 mutants to induce growth factor–independent colony formation of primary mouse bone marrow progenitor cells. However, STAT5B-DAM did not rescue the growth factor–independent colony formation of kinase-deficient K1172R BCR/ABL or the triple mutant Y177F+R522L+ Y793F BCR/ABL, both of which also fail to activate STAT5. Together, these data demonstrate that STAT5 activation by BCR/ABL is dependent on signaling from more than one domain and document the important role of STAT5-regulated pathways in BCR/ABL leukemogenesis.
PMCID: PMC2193033  PMID: 10209040
oncoprotein; domains; cooperation; transformation; leukemia
20.  Requirement for Ras/Rac1-Mediated p38 and c-Jun N-Terminal Kinase Signaling in Stat3 Transcriptional Activity Induced by the Src Oncoprotein 
Molecular and Cellular Biology  1999;19(11):7519-7528.
Signal transducers and activators of transcription (STATs) are transcription factors that mediate normal biologic responses to cytokines and growth factors. However, abnormal activation of certain STAT family members, including Stat3, is increasingly associated with oncogenesis. In fibroblasts expressing the Src oncoprotein, activation of Stat3 induces specific gene expression and is required for cell transformation. Although the Src tyrosine kinase induces constitutive Stat3 phosphorylation on tyrosine, activation of Stat3-mediated gene regulation requires both tyrosine and serine phosphorylation of Stat3. We investigated the signaling pathways underlying the constitutive Stat3 activation in Src oncogenesis. Expression of Ras or Rac1 dominant negative protein blocks Stat3-mediated gene regulation induced by Src in a manner consistent with dependence on p38 and c-Jun N-terminal kinase (JNK). Both of these serine/threonine kinases and Stat3 serine phosphorylation are constitutively induced in Src-transformed fibroblasts. Furthermore, inhibition of p38 and JNK activities suppresses constitutive Stat3 serine phosphorylation and Stat3-mediated gene regulation. In vitro kinase assays with purified full-length Stat3 as the substrate show that both JNK and p38 can phosphorylate Stat3 on serine. Moreover, inhibition of p38 activity and thus of Stat3 serine phosphorylation results in suppression of transformation by v-Src but not v-Ras, consistent with a requirement for Stat3 serine phosphorylation in Src transformation. Our results demonstrate that Ras- and Rac1-mediated p38 and JNK signals are required for Stat3 transcriptional activity induced by the Src oncoprotein. These findings delineate a network of tyrosine and serine/threonine kinase signaling pathways that converge on Stat3 in the context of oncogenesis.
PMCID: PMC84756  PMID: 10523640
21.  Stat3 Activation by Src Induces Specific Gene Regulation and Is Required for Cell Transformation 
Molecular and Cellular Biology  1998;18(5):2545-2552.
While signal transducers and activators of transcription (STATs) were originally discovered as intracellular effectors of normal signaling by cytokines, increasing evidence also points to a role for STAT transcription factors in oncogenesis. Previous studies have demonstrated that one STAT family member, Stat3, possesses constitutively elevated tyrosine phosphorylation and DNA-binding activity in fibroblasts stably transformed by the Src oncoprotein. To determine if this Stat3 activation by Src could induce Stat3-mediated gene expression, luciferase reporter constructs based on synthetic and authentic promoters were transfected into NIH 3T3 cells. Activation of endogenous cellular Stat3 by the Src oncoprotein induced gene expression through a Stat3-specific binding element (TTCCCGAA) of the C-reactive protein gene promoter. A naturally occurring splice variant of human Stat3 protein, Stat3β, with a deletion in the C-terminal transactivation domain abolished this gene induction in a dominant negative manner. Expression of Stat3β did not have any effect on a reporter construct based on the c-fos serum response element, which is not dependent on Stat3 signaling, indicating that Stat3β does not nonspecifically inhibit other signaling pathways or Src function. Transfection of vectors expressing Stat3β together with Src blocked cell transformation by Src as measured in a quantitative focus formation assay using NIH 3T3 cells. By contrast, Stat3β had a much less pronounced effect on focus formation induced by the Ras oncoprotein, which does not activate Stat3 signaling. In addition, three independent clones of NIH 3T3 cells stably overexpressing Stat3β were generated and characterized, demonstrating that Stat3β overexpression does not have a toxic effect on cell viability. These Stat3β-overexpressing clones were shown to be deficient in Stat3-mediated signaling and refractory to Src-induced cell transformation. We conclude that Stat3 activation by the Src oncoprotein leads to specific gene regulation and that Stat3 is one of the critical signaling pathways involved in Src oncogenesis. Our findings provide evidence that oncogenesis-associated activation of Stat3 signaling is part of the process of malignant transformation.
PMCID: PMC110634  PMID: 9566874
22.  Activation and association of Stat3 with Src in v-Src-transformed cell lines. 
Molecular and Cellular Biology  1996;16(4):1595-1603.
STAT proteins are a group of latent cytoplasmic transcription factors which function as signal transducers and activators of transcription. Stat1 and -2 were originally identified to function in interferon signaling, and Stat1 was also found to be activated by epidermal growth factor (EGF) and other cytokines. New members of the STAT gene family are identified. Among them, Stat3 has 52.5% amino acid sequence homology with Stat1 and is activated by platelet-derived growth factor (PDGF), colony-stimulating factor 1 (CSF-1), EGF, interleukin-6, and other cytokines. Treatment of cells with EGF activates Stat1 and Stat3, which become phosphorylated on tyrosine residues to form homo - or heterodimers and translocate into the nucleus, binding to the sis-inducible element (SIE) in the c-fos promoter. Somatic cell genetic analyses demonstrated that Jaks, a family of nontransmembrane protein tyrosine kinases, are required for the activation of Stat1 and Stat2 in interferon-treated cells. However, little is known about the activation of Stat3 by growth factors. Here we report that in all v-Src-transformed cell lines examined, Stat3 is constitutively activated to bind to DNA and the phosphorylation of tyrosine on Stat3 is enhanced by the induction of v-Src expression. We also report that Src is shown to be associated with Stat3 in vivo, as well as in vitro, and phosphorylates Stat3 in vitro. Stat3 is also activated by CSF-1, possibly through CSF-1 receptor-c Src association in NIH 3T3 cells overexpressing CSF-1 receptors. Together, the data suggest that Src is involved in activation of Stat3 in growth factor signal transduction.
PMCID: PMC231145  PMID: 8657134
23.  Ultraviolet Radiation and 12-O-Tetradecanoylphorbol-13-Acetate-Induced Interaction of Mouse Epidermal Protein Kinase Cε With Stat3 Involve Integration With Erk1/2 
Molecular carcinogenesis  2011;51(4):291-302.
We have reported that protein kinase C epsilon (PKCε) expression level in epidermis dictates the susceptibility of mice to the development of squamous cell carcinomas (SCC) elicited either by repeated exposure to ultraviolet radiation (UVR) or by the DMBA-TPA tumor promotion protocol. To find clues about the mechanism by which PKCε mediates susceptibility to UVR-induced development of SCC, we found that PKCε-over-expressing transgenic mice, as compared to their wild-type littermates, when exposed to UVR, elicit enhanced phosphorylation of Stat3 at Ser727 residues. Stat3 is constitutively activated in SCC and UVR fails to induce SCC in Stat3 mutant mice. Stat3Ser727 phosphorylation is essential for Stat3 transcriptional activity (Cancer Res. 67: 1385, 2007). We now present severa novel findings including that PKCε integrates with its downstream partner ERK1/2 to phosphorylate Stat3Ser727. In these experiments, mice were either exposed to UVR (2 kJ/m2/dose) emitted by Kodacel-filtered FS-40 sun lamps or treated with TPA (5 nmol). Both UVR and TPA treatment stimulated PKCε-Stat3 interaction, Stat3Ser727 phosphorylation and Stat3-regulated gene COX-2 expression. PKCε-Stat3 interaction and Stat3Ser727 phosphorylation was also observed in SCC elicited by repeated UVR exposures of mice. PKCε-Stat3 interaction was PKCε specific. UVR or TPA-stimulated Stat3Ser727 phosphorylation accompanied interaction of PKCε with ERK1/2 in intact mouse skin in vivo. Deletion of PKCε in wild-type mice attenuated both TPA and UVR-induced expression of phosphoforms of ERK1/2 and Stat3Ser727. These results indicate that PKCε integrates with ERK1/2 to mediate both TPA and UVR-induced epidermal Stat3Ser727 phosphorylation. PKCε and Stat3 may be potential molecular targets for SCC prevention.
PMCID: PMC3625504  PMID: 21480396
PKC; Stat3; SCC; transgenic mice; ultraviolet radiation
24.  Human Cytomegalovirus IE1 Protein Disrupts Interleukin-6 Signaling by Sequestering STAT3 in the Nucleus 
Journal of Virology  2013;87(19):10763-10776.
In the canonical STAT3 signaling pathway, binding of agonist to receptors activates Janus kinases that phosphorylate cytoplasmic STAT3 at tyrosine 705 (Y705). Phosphorylated STAT3 dimers accumulate in the nucleus and drive the expression of genes involved in inflammation, angiogenesis, invasion, and proliferation. Here, we demonstrate that human cytomegalovirus (HCMV) infection rapidly promotes nuclear localization of STAT3 in the absence of robust phosphorylation at Y705. Furthermore, infection disrupts interleukin-6 (IL-6)-induced phosphorylation of STAT3 and expression of a subset of IL-6-induced STAT3-regulated genes, including SOCS3. We show that the HCMV 72-kDa immediate-early 1 (IE1) protein associates with STAT3 and is necessary to localize STAT3 to the nucleus during infection. Furthermore, expression of IE1 is sufficient to disrupt IL-6-induced phosphorylation of STAT3, binding of STAT3 to the SOCS3 promoter, and SOCS3 gene expression. Finally, inhibition of STAT3 nuclear localization or STAT3 expression during infection is linked to diminished HCMV genome replication. Viral gene expression is also disrupted, with the greatest impact seen following viral DNA synthesis. Our study identifies IE1 as a new regulator of STAT3 intracellular localization and IL-6 signaling and points to an unanticipated role of STAT3 in HCMV infection.
PMCID: PMC3807375  PMID: 23903834
25.  Dynamics of the STAT3 Transcription Factor: Nuclear Import Dependent on Ran and Importin-β1 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(5):e20188.
The signal transducer and activator of transcription-3 (STAT3) induces transcription of genes that control differentiation, inflammation, proliferation, and tumor cell invasion. Cytokines such as interleukin-6 and interferon stimulate the specific tyrosine phosphorylation of STAT3, which confers its ability to bind consensus DNA targets. In addition, unphosphorylated STAT3 has been demonstrated to induce specific gene expression. STAT3 must gain entrance to the nucleus to impact transcription, however access to the nucleus is a tightly regulated process. Because nuclear trafficking is critical to the function of STAT3, we investigated the molecular mechanisms by which STAT3 is imported to the nucleus. Live cell imaging techniques were used with STAT3 tagged with green fluorescence protein (GFP) or photoactivatable GFP to follow the cellular dynamics of both unphosphorylated and tyrosine phosphorylated forms. Cytokine activation did not alter the rate of STAT3 nuclear import or nuclear export. In addition, Förster resonance energy transfer experiments revealed homomeric interaction of unphosphorylated STAT3 dependent on its amino terminus, but this dimerization is not necessary for its nuclear import. Previous work demonstrated the adapter importin-α3 binds to STAT3 and is required for nuclear import. To determine whether STAT3 nuclear import is mediated by the importin-α/importin-β1 heterodimer, the effects of siRNA to importin-β1 were evaluated. Results indicate STAT3 nuclear import is dependent on the function of importin-β1. Since the Ran GTPase is necessary to bind importin-β1 in the nucleus for release of importin-α-cargo, the effect of a GTPase deficient mutant of Ran was tested. Expression of the Ran interfering mutant inhibited STAT3 nuclear import. This study defines importin-α/importin-β1/Ran as the molecular mechanism by which STAT3 traffics to the nucleus.
PMCID: PMC3098288  PMID: 21625522

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