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1.  Proteomic Investigation into Betulinic Acid-Induced Apoptosis of Human Cervical Cancer HeLa Cells 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(8):e105768.
Betulinic acid is a pentacyclic triterpenoid that exhibits anticancer functions in human cancer cells. This study provides evidence that betulinic acid is highly effective against the human cervical cancer cell line HeLa by inducing dose- and time-dependent apoptosis. The apoptotic process was further investigated using a proteomics approach to reveal protein expression changes in HeLa cells following betulinic acid treatment. Proteomic analysis revealed that there were six up- and thirty down-regulated proteins in betulinic acid-induced HeLa cells, and these proteins were then subjected to functional pathway analysis using multiple analysis software. UDP-glucose 6-dehydrogenase, 6-phosphogluconate dehydrogenase decarboxylating, chain A Horf6-a novel human peroxidase enzyme that involved in redox process, was found to be down-regulated during the apoptosis process of the oxidative stress response pathway. Consistent with our results at the protein level, an increase in intracellular reactive oxygen species was observed in betulinic acid-treated cells. The proteins glucose-regulated protein and cargo-selection protein TIP47, which are involved in the endoplasmic reticulum pathway, were up-regulated by betulinic acid treatment. Meanwhile, 14-3-3 family proteins, including 14-3-3β and 14-3-3ε, were down-regulated in response to betulinic acid treatment, which is consistent with the decrease in expression of the target genes 14-3-3β and 14-3-3ε. Furthermore, it was found that the antiapoptotic bcl-2 gene was down-regulated while the proapoptotic bax gene was up-regulated after betulinic acid treatment in HeLa cells. These results suggest that betulinic acid induces apoptosis of HeLa cells by triggering both the endoplasmic reticulum pathway and the ROS-mediated mitochondrial pathway.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0105768
PMCID: PMC4141803  PMID: 25148076
2.  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.
doi:10.1158/1940-6207.CAPR-10-0340
PMCID: PMC3131433  PMID: 21490133
Gambogic acid; STAT3; Apoptosis; Proliferation; Cancer
3.  Plumbagin, Vitamin K3 Analogue, Suppresses STAT3 Activation Pathway through Induction of Protein Tyrosine Phosphatase, SHP-1: Potential Role in Chemosensitization 
Molecular cancer research : MCR  2010;8(1):107-118.
The activation of STAT3 has been linked with carcinogenesis through survival, proliferation, and angiogenesis of tumor cells. Agents that can suppress STAT3 activation have potential not only for prevention but also for treatment of cancer. In the present report, we investigated whether plumbagin (5-hydroxy-2-methyl-1,4-naphthoquinone), an analogue of Vitamin K and isolated from chitrak (Plumbago zeylanica), an Ayurvedic medicinal plant, can modulate the STAT3 pathway. We found that plumbagin inhibited both constitutive and IL-6-inducible STAT3 phosphorylation in multiple myeloma (MM) cells and this correlated with the inhibition of c-Src, JAK1, and JAK2 activation. Vanadate, however, reversed the plumbagin-induced downregulation of STAT3 activation, suggesting the involvement of a protein tyrosine phosphatase. Indeed, we found that plumbagin induced the expression of the protein tyrosine phosphatase, SHP-1; and silencing of the SHP-1 abolished the effect of plumbagin. This agent also downregulated the expression of STAT3-regulated cyclin D1, Bcl-xL, and VEGF, activated caspase-3, induced PARP cleavage, and increased the sub-G1 population of MM cells. Consistent with these results, overexpression of constitutive active STAT3 significantly reduced the plumbagin-induced apoptosis. When compared with AG490, a rationally designed STAT3/JAK2 inhibitor, plumbagin was found more potent in suppressing proliferation of cells. Plumbagin also significantly potentiated the apoptotic effects of thalidomide and bortezomib in MM cells. Overall, these results suggest that the plumbagin inhibits STAT3 activation pathway through induction of SHP-1 and this may mediate sensitization of STAT3 overexpressing cancers to chemotherapeutic agents.
doi:10.1158/1541-7786.MCR-09-0257
PMCID: PMC2808447  PMID: 20068065
Plumbagin; STAT3; JAK1; JAK2; SHP-1; Apoptosis
4.  Betulinic acid-induced Mcl-1 expression in human melanoma--mode of action and functional significance. 
Molecular Medicine  2002;8(12):877-884.
BACKGROUND: Currently there is no information on the regulation of expression and physiological role of the anti-apoptotic protein Mcl-1 in cells of the melanocytic lineage. This study investigates the regulation and expression of Mcl-1 in human melanoma cells, which was recently found to be induced by betulinic acid, a compound with anti-melanoma and apoptosis-inducing potential. MATERIALS AND METHODS: Mcl-1 phosphorthioate antisense oligonucleotides were used to investigate the effect of downregulating the expression of Mcl-1. Regulation of Mcl-1 expression was analyzed with the specific PI3-kinase inhibitors LY294002 and wortmannin and the inhibitor of MAP-kinase activation, PD98059. Western blot analysis was performed with anti ERK1/2, Mcl-1, Bak, Bcl-x and Bax antibodies. Activation status of PI-3 kinase and MAP-kinase pathways was investigated using phospho-Akt and phosphorylation-state independent Akt as well as phospho-MAP kinase, phospho-MEK and phospho-GSK-3alpha/beta antibodies. RESULTS: Upregulation of Mcl-1 in human melanoma cells by betulinic acid is mediated via a signal-transduction pathway that is inhibited by LY294002 and wortmannin. Betulinic acid-induced phosphorylation and activation of the Akt protein kinase was inhibited by LY294002. The inhibitor PD98059 reduced expression levels of Mcl-1 in melanoma cells and this effect was counteracted by betulinic acid. Downregulation of Mcl-1 by antisense oligodeoxynucleotides in combination with betulinic treatment led to a synergistic effect regarding growth inhibition. CONCLUSIONS: These results suggest that in human melanoma cells Mcl-1 is (i) of functional relevance for survival and (ii) subject to dual regulation by the MAP- kinase pathway and a pathway involving protein kinase B/Akt, the latter of which is modulated in response to betulinic acid. This study provides an experimental foundation for future therapeutic strategies using anti-Mcl-1 antisense oligonucleotides in human melanoma.
PMCID: PMC2039966  PMID: 12606824
5.  Exploration of the antiplatelet activity profile of betulinic acid on human platelets 
Betulinic acid, a natural pentacyclic triterpene acid, presents a diverse mode of biological actions including anti-retroviral, antibacterial, antimalarial and anti-inflammatory activities. The potency of betulinic acid as an inhibitor of human platelet activation was evaluated and its antiplatelet profile against in vitro platelet aggregation, induced by several platelet agonists (Adenosine Diphosphate, Thrombin Receptor Activator Peptide-14 and Arachidonic Acid), was explored. Flow cytometric analysis was performed to examine the effect of betulinic acid on P-selectin membrane expression and PAC-1 binding to activated platelets. Betulinic acid potently inhibits platelet aggregation and also reduced PAC-1 binding and the membrane expression of P-selectin. Principal component analysis was used to screen, on the chemical property space, for potential common pharmacophores of betulinic acid with approved antithrombotic drugs. A common pharmacophore was defined between the NMR derived structure of betulinic acid and prostacyclin agonists (PGI2) and the importance of its carboxylate group in its antiplatelet activity was determined. The present results indicate that betulinic acid has potential use as an antithrombotic compound and suggest that the mechanism underlying the antiplatelet effects of betulinic acid is similar to that of the PGI2 receptor agonists, a hypothesis that reserves further investigation.
doi:10.1021/jf3006728
PMCID: PMC3676635  PMID: 22720759
betulinic acid; platelet aggregation; ADP; antithrombotics
6.  Boswellic Acid Blocks STAT3 Signaling, Proliferation, and Survival of Multiple Myeloma via the Protein Tyrosine Phosphatase SHP-1 
Molecular cancer research : MCR  2009;7(1):118-128.
Activation of signal transducers and activators of transcription (STAT)-3 factors has been linked with survival, proliferation, chemoresistance and angiogenesis of tumor cells, including human multiple myeloma (MM). Thus agents that can suppress STAT3 activation have potential as cancer therapeutics. In our search for such agents, we identified acetyl-11-keto-β-boswellic acid (AKBA), originally isolated from Boswellia serrata. Our results show that AKBA inhibited constitutive STAT3 activation in human MM cells. AKBA suppressed IL-6-induced STAT3 activation, and the inhibition was reversible. The phosphorylation of both Jak 2 and Src, constituents of the STAT3 pathway, was inhibited by AKBA. Interestingly, treatment of cells with pervanadate suppressed AKBA’s effect to inhibit the phosphorylation of STAT3, thus suggesting the involvement of a protein tyrosine phosphatase. We found that AKBA induced Src homology region 2 domain-containing phosphatase 1 (SHP-1), which may account for its role in dephosphorylation of STAT3. Moreover, deletion of SHP-1 gene by SiRNA abolished the ability of AKBA to inhibit STAT3 activation. The inhibition of STAT3 activation by AKBA led to the suppression of gene products involved in proliferation (cyclin D1), survival (Bcl-2, Bcl-xL and Mcl-1), and angiogenesis (VEGF). This affect correlated with the inhibition of proliferation and apoptosis in MM cells. Consistent with these results, overexpression of constitutive active STAT3 significantly reduced the AKBA induced apoptosis. Overall, our results suggest that AKBA is a novel inhibitor of STAT3 activation and has potential in the treatment of cancer.
doi:10.1158/1541-7786.MCR-08-0154
PMCID: PMC2677182  PMID: 19147543
Acetyl-11-Keto-{beta}-Boswellic Acid; STAT3; c-Src; JAK2; SHP-1; Apoptosis
7.  Icariside II Induces Apoptosis in U937 Acute Myeloid Leukemia Cells: Role of Inactivation of STAT3-Related Signaling 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(4):e28706.
Background
The aim of this study is to determine anti-cancer effect of Icariside II purified from the root of Epimedium koreanum Nakai on human acute myeloid leukemia (AML) cell line U937.
Methodology/Principal Findings
Icariside II blocked the growth U937 cells in a dose- and time-dependent manner. In this anti-proliferation process, this herb compound rendered the cells susceptible to apoptosis, manifested by enhanced accumulation of sub-G1 cell population and increased the terminal deoxynucleotidyl transferase dUTP nick end labeling (TUNEL)-positive cells. Icariside II was able to activate caspase-3 and cleaved poly (ADP-ribose) polymerase (PARP) in a time-dependent manner. Concurrently, the anti-apoptotic proteins, such as bcl-xL and survivin in U937 cells, were downregulated by Icariside II. In addition, Icariside II could inhibit STAT3 phosphorylation and function and subsequently suppress the activation of Janus activated kinase 2 (JAK2), the upstream activators of STAT3, in a dose- and time-dependent manner. Icariside II also enhanced the expression of protein tyrosine phosphatase (PTP) SH2 domain-containing phosphatase (SHP)-1, and the addition of sodium pervanadate (a PTP inhibitor) prevented Icariside II-induced apoptosis as well as STAT3 inactivation in STAT3 positive U937 cells. Furthermore, silencing SHP-1 using its specific siRNA significantly blocked STAT3 inactivation and apoptosis induced by Icariside II in U937 cells.
Conclusions/Significance
Our results demonstrated that via targeting STAT3-related signaling, Icariside II sensitizes U937 cells to apoptosis and perhaps serves as a potent chemotherapeutic agent for AML.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0028706
PMCID: PMC3320887  PMID: 22493659
8.  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.
doi:10.1038/msb.2011.50
PMCID: PMC3159971  PMID: 21772264
apoptosis; erythropoietin; mathematical modeling; negative feedback; SOCS
9.  Stat1 activation attenuates IL-6 induced Stat3 activity but does not alter apoptosis sensitivity in multiple myeloma 
BMC Cancer  2012;12:318.
Background
Multiple myeloma (MM) is at present an incurable malignancy, characterized by apoptosis-resistant tumor cells. Interferon (IFN) treatment sensitizes MM cells to Fas-induced apoptosis and is associated with an increased activation of Signal transducer and activator of transcription (Stat)1. The role of Stat1 in MM has not been elucidated, but Stat1 has in several studies been ascribed a pro-apoptotic role. Conversely, IL-6 induction of Stat3 is known to confer resistance to apoptosis in MM.
Methods
To delineate the role of Stat1 in IFN mediated sensitization to apoptosis, sub-lines of the U-266-1970 MM cell line with a stable expression of the active mutant Stat1C were utilized. The influence of Stat1C constitutive transcriptional activation on endogenous Stat3 expression and activation, and the expression of apoptosis-related genes were analyzed. To determine whether Stat1 alone would be an important determinant in sensitizing MM cells to apoptosis, the U-266-1970-Stat1C cell line and control cells were exposed to high throughput compound screening (HTS).
Results
To explore the role of Stat1 in IFN mediated apoptosis sensitization of MM, we established sublines of the MM cell line U-266-1970 constitutively expressing the active mutant Stat1C. We found that constitutive nuclear localization and transcriptional activity of Stat1 was associated with an attenuation of IL-6-induced Stat3 activation and up-regulation of mRNA for the pro-apoptotic Bcl-2 protein family genes Harakiri, the short form of Mcl-1 and Noxa. However, Stat1 activation alone was not sufficient to sensitize cells to Fas-induced apoptosis. In a screening of > 3000 compounds including bortezomib, dexamethasone, etoposide, suberoylanilide hydroxamic acid (SAHA), geldanamycin (17-AAG), doxorubicin and thalidomide, we found that the drug response and IC50 in cells constitutively expressing active Stat1 was mainly unaltered.
Conclusion
We conclude that Stat1 alters IL-6 induced Stat3 activity and the expression of pro-apoptotic genes. However, this shift alone is not sufficient to alter apoptosis sensitivity in MM cells, suggesting that Stat1 independent pathways are operative in IFN mediated apoptosis sensitization.
doi:10.1186/1471-2407-12-318
PMCID: PMC3488543  PMID: 22838736
Hematopoetic malignancies; Multiple myeloma; Apoptosis; IFN; Stat1; Stat3; Drug sensitivity
10.  Suppression of STAT3 and HIF-1 Alpha Mediates Anti-Angiogenic Activity of Betulinic Acid in Hypoxic PC-3 Prostate Cancer Cells 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(6):e21492.
Background
Signal transducer and activator of transcription 3 (STAT3) is a transcription factor that regulates various cellular processes such as cell survival, angiogenesis and proliferation. In the present study, we examined that betulinic acid (BA), a triterpene from the bark of white birch, had the inhibitory effects on hypoxia-mediated activation of STAT3 in androgen independent human prostate cancer PC-3 cells.
Methodology/Principal Findings
BA inhibited the protein expression and the transcriptional activities of hypoxia-inducible factor-1α (HIF-1α) under hypoxic condition. Consistently, BA blocked hypoxia-induced phosphorylation, DNA binding activity and nuclear accumulation of STAT3. In addition, BA significantly reduced cellular and secreted levels of vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), a critical angiogenic factor and a target gene of STAT3 induced under hypoxia. Furthermore, BA prevented in vitro capillary tube formation in human umbilical vein endothelial cells (HUVECs) maintained in conditioned medium of hypoxic PC-3 cells, implying anti-angiogenic activity of BA under hypoxic condition. Of note, chromatin immunoprecipitation (ChiP) assay revealed that BA inhibited binding of HIF-1α and STAT3 to VEGF promoter. Furthermore, silencing STAT3 using siRNA transfection effectively enhanced the reduced VEGF production induced by BA treatment under hypoxia.
Conclusions/Significance
Taken together, our results suggest that BA has anti-angiogenic activity by disturbing the binding of HIF-1α and STAT3 to the VEGF promoter in hypoxic PC-3 cells.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0021492
PMCID: PMC3123343  PMID: 21731766
11.  Betulinic Acid Suppresses Constitutive and TNFα-induced NF-κB Activation and Induces Apoptosis in Human Prostate Carcinoma PC-3 Cells 
Molecular carcinogenesis  2008;47(12):964-973.
Development of chemoresistance in androgen-refractory prostate cancer cells is partly due to constitutive activation of Rel/NF-κB transcription factors that regulate several cell survival and anti-apoptotic genes. In this study we examined whether betulinic acid (BetA), a pentacyclic triterpene from the bark of white birch, is effective in inhibiting NF-κB expression in androgen-refractory human prostate cancer cells exhibiting high constitutive NF-κB expression. Treatment of PC-3 cells with BetA inhibited DNA binding and reduced nuclear levels of the NF-κB/p65. BetA-mediated NF-κB inhibition involved decreased IKK activity and phosphorylation of IκBα at serine 32/36 followed by its degradation. Reporter assays revealed that NF-κB inhibition by BetA is transcriptionally active. These effects were found to correlate with a shift in Bax/Bcl-2 ratio and cleavage of poly(ADP)ribose polymerase more towards apoptosis. BetA also inhibited TNFα-induced activation of NF-κB via the IκBα pathway, thereby sensitizing the cells to TNFα-induced apoptosis. Our studies demonstrate that BetA effectively inhibits constitutive NF-κB activation and supports the rationale for targeting NF-κB through combination protocols with BetA in androgen-refractory prostate cancer.
doi:10.1002/mc.20447
PMCID: PMC2864721  PMID: 18444250
transcription factor; betulinic acid; IκBα; IKK; prostate cancer
12.  The Protein Tyrosine Phosphatase, Shp2, Positively Contributes to FLT3-ITD-Induced Hematopoietic Progenitor Hyperproliferation and Malignant Disease In Vivo 
Leukemia  2012;27(2):398-408.
Internal tandem duplications in the fms-like tyrosine kinase receptor (FLT3-ITDs) confer a poor prognosis in acute myeloid leukemia. We hypothesized that increased recruitment of the protein tyrosine phosphatase, Shp2, to FLT3-ITDs contributes to FLT3 ligand (FL)-independent hyperproliferation and STAT5 activation. Co-immunoprecipitation demonstrated constitutive association of Shp2 with the FLT3-ITD, N51-FLT3, as well as with STAT5. Knock-down of Shp2 in Baf3/N51-FLT3 cells significantly reduced proliferation while having little effect on WT-FLT3-expressing cells. Consistently, mutation of N51-FLT3 tyrosine 599 to phenylalanine or genetic disruption of Shp2 in N51-FLT3-expressing bone marrow low density mononuclear cells reduced proliferation and STAT5 activation. In transplants, genetic disruption of Shp2 in vivo yielded increased latency to and reduced severity of FLT3-ITD-induced malignancy. Mechanistically, Shp2 co-localizes with nuclear phospho-STAT5, is present at functional interferon-γ activation sites (GAS) within the BCL2L1 promoter, and positively activates the human BCL2L1 promoter, suggesting that Shp2 works with STAT5 to promote pro-leukemogenic gene expression. Further, using a small molecule Shp2 inhibitor, the proliferation of N51-FLT3-expressing bone marrow progenitors and primary AML samples was reduced in a dose-dependent manner. These findings demonstrate that Shp2 positively contributes to FLT3-ITD-induced leukemia and suggest that Shp2 inhibition may provide a novel therapeutic approach to acute myeloid leukemia.
doi:10.1038/leu.2012.308
PMCID: PMC3916934  PMID: 23103841
Acute Myeloid Leukemia; FLT3-ITD; Shp2; STAT5
13.  SHP-1 is a target of regorafenib in colorectal cancer 
Oncotarget  2014;5(15):6243-6251.
Regorafenib is an inhibitor of multiple protein kinases which exerts antitumor and antimetastatic activities in metastatic colorectal cancer (CRC). SH2 domain-containing phosphatase 1 (SHP-1) is reported to have tumor suppressive potential because it acts as a negative regulator of p-STAT3Tyr705 signaling. However, little is known about the mechanism regarding regorafenib affects SHP-1 tyrosine phosphatase activity and leads to apoptosis and tumor suppression in CRC. Here, we found that regorafenib triggered apoptotic cell death and significantly enhanced SHP-1 activity, which dramatically decreased the phosphorylated form of STAT3 at Tyr705 (p-STAT3Tyr705). Importantly, regorafenib augmented SHP-1 activity by direct disruption of the association between N-SH2 and catalytic PTP domain of SHP-1. Deletion of the N-SH2 domain (dN1) or point mutation (D61A) of SHP-1 blocked the effect of regorafenib-induced SHP-1 activity, growth inhibition and a decrease of p-STAT3Tyr705 expression, suggesting that regorafenib triggers a conformational change in SHP-1 by relieving its autoinhibition. In vivo assay showed that regorafenib significantly inhibited xenograft growth and decreased p-STAT3Tyr705 expression but induced higher SHP-1 activity. Collectively, regorafenib is a novel SHP-1 agonist exerts superior anti-tumor effects by enhancing SHP-1 activity that directly targets p-STAT3Tyr705. Small molecule-enhancement of SHP-1 activity may be a promising therapeutic approach for CRC treatment.
PMCID: PMC4171626  PMID: 25071018
SHP-1; Regorafenib; Colorectal cancer; STAT3; Apoptosis
14.  Inhibition of phosphotidylinositol-3 kinase pathway by a novel naphthol derivative of betulinic acid induces cell cycle arrest and apoptosis in cancer cells of different origin 
Cell Death & Disease  2014;5(10):e1459-.
Betulinic acid (BA) is a pentacyclic triterpenoid natural product reported to inhibit cell growth in a variety of cancers. However, the further clinical development of BA got hampered because of poor solubility and pharmacological properties. Interestingly, this molecule offer several hotspots for structural modifications in order to address its associated issues. In our endeavor, we selected C-3 position for the desirable chemical modification in order to improve its cytotoxic and pharmacological potential and prepared a library of different triazoline derivatives of BA. Among them, we previously reported the identification of a potential molecule, that is, 3{1N(5-hydroxy-naphth-1yl)-1H-1,2,3-triazol-4yl}methyloxy betulinic acid (HBA) with significant inhibition of cancer cell growth and their properties. In the present study, we have shown for the first time that HBA decreased the expression of phosphotidylinositol-3 kinase (PI3K) p110α and p85α and caused significant downregulation of pAKT and of NFκB using human leukemia and breast cancer cells as in vitro models. Further it was revealed that PI3K inhibition by HBA induced cell cycle arrest via effects on different cell cycle regulatory proteins that include CDKis cyclins and pGSK3β. Also, this target-specific inhibition was associated with mitochondrial apoptosis as was reflected by the increased expression of mitochondrial bax, downregulated bcl2 and decreased mitochondrial levels of cytochrome c, together with reactive oxygen species generation and decline in mitochondrial membrane potential. The apoptotic effectors such as caspase 8, caspase 9 and caspase 3 were found to be upregulated besides DNA repair-associated enzyme, that is, PARP cleavage caused cancer cell death. Pharmacodynamic evaluation revealed that both HBA and BA were safe upto the dose of 2000 mg/kg body weight and with acceptable pharmacodynamic parameters. The in vitro data corroborated with in vivo anticancer activity wherein Ehrlich solid tumor showed that HBA as a more potent agent than BA without any body weight loss and mortality.
doi:10.1038/cddis.2014.387
PMCID: PMC4237233  PMID: 25299784
15.  Stat3 activation in human endometrial and cervical cancers 
British Journal of Cancer  2007;96(4):591-599.
The activation of signal transducer and activator of transcription 3 (Stat3) has been implicated in the oncogenesis of cancer and is regarded as a novel target for cancer therapy. Stat3 is classified as a proto-oncogene, because an activated form of Stat3 can mediate oncogenic transformation in cultured cells and tumour formation in nude mice. The constitutive activation of Stat3 has been frequently detected in various types of human cancers. However, the constitutive activation of Stat3 in endometrial and cervical cancers has not been studied. We examined tyrosine phosphorylation of Stat3 (activated form of Stat3) in multiple endometrial and cervical cancer tissues using tissue microarray slides as well as cancer cell lines to explore the possible activation of Stat3. Our results indicated that elevated phosphorylation of Stat3 was detected in cervical and endometrial cancer cell lines. Our results also showed that elevated levels of phosphorylation of Stat3 protein were detected in the endometrial and cervical cancer specimens. This is the first study to demonstrate that Stat3 is activated in human endometrial and cervical cancer tissues. Immunohistochemical staining showed that activated Stat3 is associated with increased expression of downstream antiapoptotic genes, Bcl-xL, survivin, and Mcl-1 in these tissues. Expression of a dominant-negative Stat3 mutant using adenovirus-mediated gene transfer inhibited cell growth and induced apoptosis in HeLa and SiHa cervical cancer cell lines expressing elevated levels of Stat3 phosphorylation. Further, a JAK/Stat3 small molecular inhibitor, JSI-124, induced apoptosis more selectively in HeLa and SiHa cancer cell lines than Ishikawa cell line without elevated levels of Stat3 phosphorylation. These results indicate that Stat3 is activated in human endometrial and cervical cancers and the inhibition of constitutive Stat3 signaling may be an effective target for cancer intervention in these two cancers.
doi:10.1038/sj.bjc.6603597
PMCID: PMC2360038  PMID: 17311011
Stat3; endometrial cancer; cervical cancer; tissue microarray
16.  Decursin and Doxorubicin Are in Synergy for the Induction of Apoptosis via STAT3 and/or mTOR Pathways in Human Multiple Myeloma Cells 
Background. Combination cancer therapy is one of the attractive approaches to overcome drug resistance of cancer cells. In the present study, we investigated the synergistic effect of decursin from Angelica gigas and doxorubicin on the induction of apoptosis in three human multiple myeloma cells. Methodology/Principal Findings. Combined treatment of decursin and doxorubicin significantly exerted significant cytotoxicity compared to doxorubicin or decursin in U266, RPMI8226, and MM.1S cells. Furthermore, the combination treatment enhanced the activation of caspase-9 and -3, the cleavage of PARP, and the sub G1 population compared to either drug alone in three multiple myeloma cells. In addition, the combined treatment downregulated the phosphorylation of mTOR and its downstream S6K1 and activated the phosphorylation of ERK in three multiple myeloma cells. Furthermore, the combined treatment reduced mitochondrial membrane potential, suppressed the phosphorylation of JAK2, STAT3, and Src, activated SHP-2, and attenuated the expression of cyclind-D1 and survivin in U266 cells. Conversely, tyrosine phosphatase inhibitor pervanadate reversed STAT3 inactivation and also PARP cleavage and caspase-3 activation induced by combined treatment of doxorubicin and decursin in U266 cells. Conclusions/Significance. Overall, the combination treatment of decursin and doxorubicin can enhance apoptotic activity via mTOR and/or STAT3 signaling pathway in multiple myeloma cells.
doi:10.1155/2013/506324
PMCID: PMC3684033  PMID: 23818927
17.  Betulinic Acid Inhibits Growth of Cultured Vascular Smooth Muscle Cells In Vitro by Inducing G1 Arrest and Apoptosis 
Betulinic acid is a widely available plant-derived triterpene which is reported to possess selective cytotoxic activity against cancer cells of neuroectodermal origin and leukemia. However, the potential of betulinic acid as an antiproliferative and cytotoxic agent on vascular smooth muscle (VSMC) is still unclear. This study was carried out to demonstrate the antiproliferative and cytotoxic effect of betulinic acid on VSMCs using 3-[4,5-dimethylthizol-2-yl]-2,5-diphenyltetrazolium bromide (MTT) assay, flow cytometry cell cycle assay, BrdU proliferation assay, acridine orange/propidium iodide staining, and comet assay. Result from MTT and BrdU assays indicated that betulinic acid was able to inhibit the growth and proliferation of VSMCs in a dose-dependent manner with IC50 of 3.8 μg/mL significantly (P < 0.05). Nevertheless, betulinic acid exhibited G1 cell cycle arrest in flow cytometry cell cycle profiling and low level of DNA damage against VSMC in acridine orange/propidium iodide and comet assay after 24 h of treatment. In conclusion, betulinic acid induced G1 cell cycle arrest and dose-dependent DNA damage on VSMC.
doi:10.1155/2012/251362
PMCID: PMC3463985  PMID: 23056140
18.  Study of the betulin enriched birch bark extracts effects on human carcinoma cells and ear inflammation 
Background
Pentacyclic triterpenes, mainly betulin and betulinic acid, are valuable anticancer agents found in the bark of birch tree. This study evaluates birch bark extracts for the active principles composition.
Results
New improved extraction methods were applied on the bark of Betula pendula in order to reach the maximum content in active principles. Extracts were analyzed by HPLC-MS, Raman, SERS and 13C NMR spectroscopy which revealed a very high yield of betulin (over 90%). Growth inhibiting effects were measured in vitro on four malignant human cell lines: A431 (skin epidermoid carcinoma), A2780 (ovarian carcinoma), HeLa (cervix adenocarcinoma) and MCF7 (breast adenocarcinoma), by means of MTT assay. All of the prepared bark extracts exerted a pronounced antiproliferative effect against human cancer cell lines. In vivo studies involved the anti-inflammatory effect of birch extracts on TPA-induced model of inflammation in mice.
Conclusions
The research revealed the efficacy of the extraction procedures as well as the antiproliferative and anti-inflammatory effects of birch extracts.
doi:10.1186/1752-153X-6-137
PMCID: PMC3527166  PMID: 23158079
Betulin; Birch extract; Anticancer; Raman; SERS; 13C NMR
19.  Design, synthesis and biological evaluation of novel betulinic acid derivatives 
Background
Tumor, is one of the major reason for human death, due to its widespread occurrence. Betulinic acid derivatives have attracted considerable attention as cancer chemopreventive agents and also as cancer therapeutics. Many of its derivatives inhibit the growth of human cancer cell lines by triggering apoptosis. With this background, we planned to synthesize a series of betulinic acid derivatives to assess their antiproliferation efficacy on human cancer cell lines.
Results
A series of novel betulinic acid derivatives were designed and synthesized as highlighted by the preliminary antitumor evaluation against MGC-803, PC3, A375, Bcap-37 and A431 human cancer cell lines in vitro. The pharmacological results showed that some of the compounds displayed moderate to high levels of antitumor activities with most of new exhibiting higher inhibitory activities compared to BA. The IC50 values of compound 3c on the five cancer cell lines were 2.3, 4.6, 3.3, 3.6, and 4.3 μM, respectively. Subsequent fluorescence staining and flow cytometry analysis (FCM) indicated that compound 3c could induce apoptosis in MGC-803 and PC3 cell lines, and the apoptosis ratios reached the peak (37.38% and 33.74%) after 36 h of treatment at 10 μM.
Conclusions
This study suggests that most of betulinic acid derivatives could inhibit the growth of human cancer cell lines. Furthermore, compound 3c could induce apoptosis of cancer cells.
doi:10.1186/1752-153X-6-141
PMCID: PMC3541990  PMID: 23174002
20.  Novel sorafenib analogues induce apoptosis through SHP-1 dependent STAT3 inactivation in human breast cancer cells 
Introduction
Signal transducers and activators of transcription 3 (STAT3) signaling is constitutively activated in various cancers including breast cancer and has emerged as a novel potential anti-cancer target. STAT3 has been demonstrated to be a target of sorafenib, and a protein tyrosine phosphatase Src homology 2-domain containing tyrosine phosphatase 1 (SHP-1) has been demonstrated to downregulate p-STAT3 via its phosphatase activity. Here, we tested the efficacy of two sorafenib analogues, SC-1 and SC-43, in breast cancer cells and examined the drug mechanism.
Methods
Breast cancer cell lines were used for in vitro studies. Cell viability was examined by the 3-(4,5-dimethylthiazol-2-yl)-2,5-diphenyltetrazolium bromide (MTT) assay. Apoptosis was examined by flow cytometry and western blot. Signal transduction pathways in cells were assessed by western blot. In vivo efficacy of sorafenib, SC-1 and SC-43 was tested in xenografted nude mice.
Results
SC-1 and SC-43 induced more potent apoptosis than sorafenib, in association with downregulation of p-STAT3 and its downstream proteins cyclin D1 and survivin in a dose-dependent manner in breast cancer cell lines (HCC-1937, MDA-MB-468, MDA-MB-231, MDA-MB-453, SK-BR3, MCF-7). Overexpression of STAT3 in MDA-MB-468 cells protected the cells from apoptosis induced by sorafenib, SC-1 and SC-43. Moreover, SC-1 and SC-43 upregulated SHP-1 activity to a greater extent than sorafenib as measured by in vitro phosphatase assays. Knockdown of SHP-1 by siRNA reduced apoptosis induced by SC-1 and SC-43. Importantly, SC-1 and SC-43 showed more efficacious antitumor activity and p-STAT3 downregulation than sorafenib in MDA-MB-468 xenograft tumors.
Conclusions
Novel sorafenib analogues SC-1 and SC-43 induce apoptosis through SHP-1 dependent STAT3 inactivation and demonstrate greater potency than sorafenib in human breast cancer cells.
doi:10.1186/bcr3457
PMCID: PMC3978748  PMID: 23938089
21.  Betulinic Acid for Cancer Treatment and Prevention 
Betulinic acid is a natural product with a range of biological effects, for example potent antitumor activity. This anticancer property is linked to its ability to induce apoptotic cell death in cancer cells by triggering the mitochondrial pathway of apoptosis. In contrast to the cytotoxicity of betulinic acid against a variety of cancer types, normal cells and tissue are relatively resistant to betulinic acid, pointing to a therapeutic window. Compounds that exert a direct action on mitochondria present promising experimental cancer therapeutics, since they may trigger cell death under circumstances in which standard chemotherapeutics fail. Thus, mitochondrion-targeted agents such as betulinic acid hold great promise as a novel therapeutic strategy in the treatment of human cancers.
doi:10.3390/ijms9061096
PMCID: PMC2658785  PMID: 19325847
apoptosis; cancer; betulinic acid; mitochondria; AIF, apoptosis inducing factor; Apaf-1, Apoptotic protease activating factor-1; BA, betulinic acid; DIABLO, direct IAP Binding protein with Low PI; HtrA2, high temperature requirement protein A; IAPs, Inhibitor of Apoptosis Proteins; MOMP, mitochondrial outer membrane permeabilization; ROS, reactive oxygen species; PARP, Poly (ADP-ribose) Polymerase; Smac, second mitochondria-derived activator of caspase; TNF, tumor necrosis factor; TRAIL, tumor necrosis factor-related apoptosis-inducing ligand; zVAD.fmk, N-benzyloxycarbonyl-Val-Ala-Asp-fluoromethylketone
22.  From a Traditional Medicinal Plant to a Rational Drug: Understanding the Clinically Proven Wound Healing Efficacy of Birch Bark Extract 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(1):e86147.
Background
Birch bark has a long lasting history as a traditional medicinal remedy to accelerate wound healing. Recently, the efficacy of birch bark preparations has also been proven clinically. As active principle pentacyclic triterpenes are generally accepted. Here, we report a comprehensive study on the underlying molecular mechanisms of the wound healing properties of a well-defined birch bark preparation named as TE (triterpene extract) as well as the isolated single triterpenes in human primary keratinocytes and porcine ex-vivo wound healing models.
Methodology/Principal Findings
We show positive wound healing effects of TE and betulin in scratch assay experiments with primary human keratinocytes and in a porcine ex-vivo wound healing model (WHM). Mechanistical studies elucidate that TE and betulin transiently upregulate pro-inflammatory cytokines, chemokines and cyclooxygenase-2 on gene and protein level. For COX-2 and IL-6 this increase of mRNA is due to an mRNA stabilizing effect of TE and betulin, a process in which p38 MAPK and HuR are involved. TE promotes keratinocyte migration, putatively by increasing the formation of actin filopodia, lamellipodia and stress fibers. Detailed analyses show that the TE components betulin, lupeol and erythrodiol exert this effect even in nanomolar concentrations. Targeting the actin cytoskeleton is dependent on the activation of Rho GTPases.
Conclusion/Significance
Our results provide insights to understand the molecular mechanism of the clinically proven wound healing effect of birch bark. TE and betulin address the inflammatory phase of wound healing by transient up-regulation of several pro-inflammatory mediators. Further, they enhance migration of keratinocytes, which is essential in the second phase of wound healing. Our results, together with the clinically proven efficacy, identify birch bark as the first medical plant with a high potential to improve wound healing, a field which urgently needs effective remedies.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0086147
PMCID: PMC3899119  PMID: 24465925
23.  Shp-2 Tyrosine Phosphatase Functions as a Negative Regulator of the Interferon-Stimulated Jak/STAT Pathway 
Molecular and Cellular Biology  1999;19(3):2416-2424.
Shp-2 is an SH2 domain-containing protein tyrosine phosphatase. Although the mechanism remains to be defined, substantial experimental data suggest that Shp-2 is primarily a positive regulator in cell growth and development. We present evidence here that Shp-2, while acting to promote mitogenic signals, also functions as a negative effector in interferon (IFN)-induced growth-inhibitory and apoptotic pathways. Treatment of mouse fibroblast cells lacking a functional Shp-2 with IFN-α or IFN-γ resulted in an augmented suppression of cell viability compared to that of wild-type cells. To dissect the molecular mechanism, we examined IFN-induced activation of signal transducers and activators of transcription (STATs) by electrophoretic mobility shift assay, using a specific DNA probe (hSIE). The amounts of STAT proteins bound to hSIE upon IFN-α or IFN-γ stimulation were significantly increased in Shp-2−/− cells. Consistently, tyrosine phosphorylation levels of Stat1 upon IFN-γ treatment and, to a lesser extent, upon IFN-α stimulation were markedly elevated in mutant cells. Furthermore, IFN-γ induced a higher level of caspase 1 expression in Shp-2−/− cells than in wild-type cells. Reintroduction of wild-type Shp-2 protein reversed the hypersensitivity of Shp-2−/− fibroblasts to the cytotoxic effect of IFN-α and IFN-γ. Excessive activation of STATs by IFNs was also diminished in mutant cells in which Shp-2 had been reintroduced. Together, these results establish that Shp-2 functions as a negative regulator of the Jak/STAT pathway. We propose that Shp-2 acts to promote cell growth and survival through two mechanisms, i.e., the stimulation of growth factor-initiated mitogenic pathways and the suppression of cytotoxic effect elicited by cytokines, such as IFNs.
PMCID: PMC84034  PMID: 10022928
24.  Betulinic acid induces apoptosis and inhibits hedgehog signalling in rhabdomyosarcoma 
British Journal of Cancer  2010;103(1):43-51.
Background:
Rhabdomyosarcoma (RMS) is the most common soft-tissue sarcoma in childhood with the ability to resist apoptosis by the activation of survival promoting and anti-apoptotic proteins.
Methods:
Efficacy of the apoptosis-inducing agent betulinic acid (BA) was determined in RMS cell cultures and in vivo by measuring cell viability, survival, apoptosis, hedgehog signalling activity, and neovascularisation.
Results:
Betulinic acid had a strong cytotoxic effect on RMS cells in a dose-dependent manner. The BA treatment caused a massive induction of apoptosis mediated by the intrinsic mitochondrial pathway, which could be inhibited by the broad-range caspase inhibitor zVAD.fmk. Exposure of hedgehog-activated RMS-13 cells to BA resulted in a strong decrease in GLI1, GLI2, PTCH1, and IGF2 expression as well as hedgehog-responsive luciferase activity. Intraperitoneal injection of 20 mg BA per kg per day significantly retarded growth of RMS-13 xenografts in association with markedly higher counts of apoptotic cells and down-regulation of GLI1 expression compared with control tumours, while leaving microvascular density, cell proliferation, and myogenic differentiation unaffected.
Conclusion:
Our data show that induction of apoptosis and inhibition of hedgehog signalling are important features of the anti-tumourigenic effect of BA in RMS and advices this compound for the use in a multimodal therapy of this highly aggressive paediatric tumour.
doi:10.1038/sj.bjc.6605715
PMCID: PMC2905279  PMID: 20517313
betulinic acid; rhabdomyosarcoma; apoptosis; hedgehog; xenograft
25.  A novel small-molecule disrupts Stat3 SH2 domain-phosphotyrosine interactions and Stat3-dependent tumor processes 
Biochemical pharmacology  2010;79(10):1398-1409.
The molecular modeling of the phosphotyrosine (pTyr)-SH2 domain interaction in the Stat3:Stat3 dimerization, combined with in silico structural analysis of the Stat3 dimerization disruptor, S3I-201, has furnished a diverse set of analogs. We present evidence from in vitro biochemical and biophysical studies that the structural analog, S3I-201.1066 directly interacts with Stat3 or the SH2 domain, with an affinity (KD) of 2.74 nM, and disrupts the binding of Stat3 to the cognate pTyr-peptide, GpYLPQTV-NH2, with an IC50 of 23 μM. Moreover, S3I-201.1066 selectively blocks the association of Stat3 with the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR), and inhibits Stat3 tyrosine phosphorylation and nuclear translocation in EGF-stimulated mouse fibroblasts. In cancer cells that harbor aberrant Stat3 activity, S3I-201.1066 inhibits constitutive Stat3 DNA-binding and transcriptional activities. By contrast, S3I-201.1066 has no effect on Src activation or the EGFR-mediated activation of the Erk1/2MAPK pathway. S3I-201.1066 selectively suppresses the viability, survival, and malignant transformation of the human breast and pancreatic cancer lines and the v-Src-transformed mouse fibroblasts harboring persistently-active Stat3. Treatment with S3I-201.1066 of malignant cells harboring aberrantly-active Stat3 down-regulated the expression of c-Myc, Bcl-xL, Survivin, the matrix metalloproteinase 9, and VEGF. The in vivo administration of S3I-201.1066 induced significant antitumor response in mouse models of human breast cancer, which correlates with the inhibition of constitutively-active Stat3 and the suppression of known Stat3-regulated genes. Our studies identify a novel small-molecule that binds with a high affinity to Stat3, blocks Stat3 activation and function, and thereby induces antitumor response in human breast tumor xenografts harboring persistently-active Stat3.
doi:10.1016/j.bcp.2010.01.001
PMCID: PMC3188443  PMID: 20067773
Stat3; S3I-201; S3I-201.1066; small-molecule inhibitor; antitumor effects; antitumor cell effects

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