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Caspase-dependent proteolytic cleavage of STAT3alpha in ES cells, in mammary glands undergoing forced involution and in breast cancer cell lines.

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Matthews, James R 
Watson, Susan MR 
Tevendale, Maxine CL 
Watson, Christine J 
Clarke, Alan R 


BACKGROUND: The STAT (Signal Transducers and Activators of Transcription) transcription factor family mediates cellular responses to a wide range of cytokines. Activated STATs (particularly STAT3) are found in a range of cancers. Further, STAT3 has anti-apoptotic functions in a range of tumour cell lines. After observing a proteolytic cleavage in STAT3alpha close to a potential apoptotic caspase protease cleavage site we investigated whether STAT3alpha might be a caspase substrate. METHODS: STAT3alpha status was investigated in vitro in several cell systems:- HM-1 murine embryonic stem (ES) cells following various interventions; IOUD2 murine ES cells following induction to differentiate along neural or adipocyte lineages; and in a number of breast cancer cell lines. STAT3alpha status was also analysed in vivo in wild type murine mammary glands undergoing controlled, forced involution. RESULTS: Immunoblotting for STAT3alpha in HM-1 ES cell extracts detected amino and carboxy terminal species of approximately 48 kDa and 43 kDa respectively--which could be diminished dose-dependently by cell treatment with the nitric oxide (NO) donor drug sodium nitroprusside (SNP). UV irradiation of HM-1 ES cells triggered the STAT3alpha cleavage (close to a potential caspase protease cleavage site). Interestingly, the pan-caspase inhibitor z-Val-Ala-DL-Asp-fluoromethylketone (z-VAD-FMK) and the JAK2 tyrosine kinase inhibitor AG490 both inhibited cleavage dose-dependently, and cleavage was significantly lower in a heterozygous JAK2 knockout ES cell clone. STAT3alpha cleavage also occurred in vivo in normal murine mammary glands undergoing forced involution, coinciding with a pulse of phosphorylation of residue Y705 on full-length STAT3alpha. Cleavage also occurred during IOUD2 ES cell differentiation (most strikingly along the neural lineage) and in several human breast cancer cell lines, correlating strongly with Y705 phosphorylation. CONCLUSION: This study documents a proteolytic cleavage of STAT3alpha into 48 kDa amino and 43 kDa carboxyl terminal fragments in a range of cell types. STAT3alpha cleavage occurs close to a potential caspase site, and can be inhibited dose-dependently by SNP, AG490 and z-VAD-FMK. The cleavage seems to be caspase-dependent and requires the phosphorylation of STAT3alpha at the Y705 residue. This highly regulated STAT3alpha cleavage may play an important role in modulating STAT3 transcriptional activity.



Animals, Breast Neoplasms, Caspases, Cell Differentiation, Cell Line, Tumor, Embryonic Stem Cells, Female, Humans, Janus Kinase 2, Mammary Glands, Animal, Mice, Molecular Weight, Nitroprusside, Phosphorylation, STAT3 Transcription Factor

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BMC Cancer

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Springer Science and Business Media LLC