Wheezing and itching: The requirement for STAT proteins in allergic inflammation
The development of allergic inflammation requires the orchestration of gene expression from the inflamed tissue and from the infiltrating immune cells. Since many of the cytokines that promote allergic inflammation signal through hematopoietin family receptors, the Signal Transducer and Activator of Transcription (STAT) family have obligate roles in pro-allergic cytokine-induced gene regulation in multiple cell types. In this review, we summarize work defining the contribution of each of the STAT family members to the development of allergic inflammation, using data from mouse models of allergic inflammation, studies on patient samples and correlations with single nucleotide polymorphisms in STAT genes.
STAT5-mediated self-renewal of normal hematopoietic and leukemic stem cells
The level of transcription factor activity critically regulates cell fate decisions such as hematopoietic stem cell self-renewal and differentiation. The balance between hematopoietic stem cell self-renewal and differentiation needs to be tightly controlled, as a shift toward differentiation might exhaust the stem cell pool, while a shift toward self-renewal might mark the onset of leukemic transformation. A number of transcription factors have been proposed to be critically involved in governing stem cell fate and lineage commitment, such as Hox transcription factors, c-Myc, Notch1, β-catenin, C/ebpα, Pu.1 and STAT5. It is therefore no surprise that dysregulation of these transcription factors can also contribute to the development of leukemias. This review will discuss the role of STAT5 in both normal and leukemic hematopoietic stem cells as well as mechanisms by which STAT5 might contribute to the development of human leukemias.
Comparative evolutionary genomics of the STAT family of transcription factors
The STAT signaling pathway is one of the seven common pathways that govern cell fate decisions during animal development. Comparative genomics revealed multiple incidences of stat gene duplications throughout metazoan evolutionary history. While pseudogenization is a frequent fate of duplicated genes, many of these STAT duplications evolved into novel genes through rapid sequence diversification and neofunctionalization. Additionally, the core of STAT gene regulatory networks, comprising stat1 through 4, stat5 and stat6, arose early in vertebrate evolution, probably through the two whole genome duplication events that occurred after the split of Cephalochordates but before the rise of Chondrichthyes. While another complete genome duplication event took place during the evolution of bony fish after their separation from the tetrapods about 450 million years ago (Mya), modern fish have only one set of these core stats, suggesting the rapid loss of most duplicated stat genes. The two stat5 genes in mammals likely arose from a duplication event in early Eutherian evolution, a period from about 310 Mya at the avian-mammal divergence to the separation of marsupials from other mammals about 130 Mya. These analyses indicate that whole genome duplications and gene duplications by unequal chromosomal crossing over were likely the major mechanisms underlying the evolution of STATs.
Modulation of human JAK-STAT pathway signaling by functionally conserved regulators
Both the core JAK-STAT pathway components and their in vivo roles have been widely conserved between vertebrates and invertebrate models such as Drosophila melanogaster. Misregulation of JAK-STAT pathway activity has also been identified as a key factor in the development of multiple human malignancies. Recently, whole genome RNA interference (RNAi) screens in cultured Drosophila cells have identified both positively and negatively acting JAK-STAT pathway regulators. Here, we describe the analysis of 73 human genes representing homologs of 56 Drosophila genes originally identified by genome-wide RNAi screening as regulators of JAK-STAT signaling. Using assays for human STAT1 and STAT3 protein levels and phosphorylation status, as well as assays measuring the expression of endogenous STAT1 and STAT3 transcriptional targets, we have tested siRNAs targeting these 73 human genes and have identified potential JAK-STAT pathway regulatory roles in 69 (95%) of these. The genes identified represent a wide range of human JAK-STAT pathway regulators and include genes not previously known to modulate this signaling cascade. These results underline the value of model system based approaches for the identification of pathway regulators and have led to the identification of loci whose misregulation may ultimately be implicated in JAK-STAT pathway-mediated human disease.
A membrane penetrating peptide aptamer inhibits STAT3 function and suppresses the growth of STAT3 addicted tumor cells
Cancer cells are characterized by the aberrant activation of signaling pathways governing proliferation, survival, angiogenesis, migration and immune evasion. These processes are partially regulated by the transcription factor STAT3. This factor is inappropriately activated in diverse tumor types. Since tumor cells can become dependent on its persistent activation, STAT3 is a favorable drug target. Here, we describe the functional characterization of the recombinant STAT3 inhibitor, rS3-PA. This inhibitor is based on a 20 amino acid peptide which specifically interacts with the dimerization domain of STAT3. It is integrated into a thioredoxin scaffold and fused to a protein transduction domain. Protein gel blot and immunofluorescence analyses showed that rS3-PA is efficiently taken up by cells via an endocytosis independent mechanism. Intracellularly, it reduces the phosphorylation of STAT3 and enhances its degradation. This leads to the downregulation of STAT3 target gene expression on the mRNA and protein levels. Subsequently, tumor cell proliferation, survival and migration and the induction of angiogenesis are inhibited. In contrast, normal cells remain unaffected. Systemic administration of rS3-PA at doses of 7.5 mg/kg reduced P-STAT3 levels and significantly inhibited tumor growth up to 35% in a glioblastoma xenograft mouse model.