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STAT3 Inhibition by Microtubule-Targeted Drugs: Dual Molecular Effects of Chemotherapeutic Agents

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Author(s): Sarah R Walker, Mousumi Chaudhury, David A Frank | Mousumi Chaudhury | David A Frank

Journal: Molecular and Cellular Pharmacology
ISSN 1938-1247

Volume: 3;
Issue: 1;
Start page: 13;
Date: 2011;
Original page

Keywords: Cancer | Signal transduction | Transcription factors | Phosphorylation | Chemotherapy | Targeted therapy

ABSTRACT
To improve the effectiveness of anti-cancer therapies, it is necessary to identify molecular targets that are essential to a tumor cell but dispensable in a normal cell. Increasing evidence indicates that the transcription factor STAT3, which regulates the expression of genes controlling proliferation, survival, and self-renewal, constitutes such a target. Recently it has been found that STAT3 can associate with the cytoskeleton. Since many of the tumors in which STAT3 is activated, such as breast cancer and ovarian cancer, are responsive to drugs that target microtubules, we examined the effect of these compounds on STAT3. We found that microtubule stabilizers, such as paclitaxel, or microtubule inhibitors, such as vinorelbine, decrease the activating tyrosine phosphorylation of STAT3 in tumor cells and inhibit the expression of STAT3 target genes. Paclitaxel decreases the association between STAT3 and microtubules, and appears to decrease STAT3 phosphorylation through induction of a negative feedback regulator. The cytotoxic activity of paclitaxel in breast cancer cell lines correlates with its ability to decrease STAT3 phosphorylation. However, consistent with the necessity for expression of a negative regulator, treatment of resistant MDA-MB-231 cells with the DNA demethylating agent 5-azacytidine restores the ability of paclitaxel to block STAT3-dependent gene expression. Finally, the combination of paclitaxel and agents that directly target STAT3 has beneficial effects in killing STAT3-dependent cell lines. Thus, microtubule-targeted agents may exert some of their effects by inhibiting STAT3, and understanding this interaction may be important for optimizing rational targeted cancer therapies.
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