Analysis of signal transducer and activator of transcription 3 (STAT3) in gastrointestinal stromal tumors

Anticancer Res. 2003 May-Jun;23(3B):2253-60.


Several signaling pathways have been recognized in normal c-kit-mediated signal transduction following stem cell factor (SCF) stimulation including Janus kinase (JAK)/signal transducer and activator of transcription (STAT), mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) and phosphoinositol 3-kinase (PI-3 K) pathways. In gastrointestinal stromal tumor (GIST), c-kit activation is considered to play a central role in its tumorigenesis. However, the signal transduction cascades specific for the SCF-independent c-kit activation in GIST remains to be elucidated. In this study, we examined for the expression of the activated form of STAT3 [phospho-STAT3 (tyr 705)] in eleven cases of GIST by immunohistochemistry. All GISTs had strong nuclear and variable cytoplasmic expression of phospho-STAT3 (tyr 705). Survival and proliferation of two established primary GIST cell lines with c-kit exon-11 mutations were then assessed for their response to inhibitors of c-kit (STI-571), JAK 2 (Tyrphostin AG490), MAPK kinase (PD98059) and PI-3 K(LY294002). GIST cells showed significant inhibition of proliferation and apoptosis when treated with STI571 or AG490 but not in cells treated with PD98059 or LY294002. Bcl-2 was expressed in all of the GIST cases (11 out of 11) and was down-regulated in the primary GIST cells following treatment with AG490. This study demonstrates that STAT3 is constitutively activated in GIST and JAK2 blockade leads to tumor growth inhibition and apoptosis indicating the involvement of the JAK/STAT signaling pathway in GIST cellular survival.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Apoptosis / drug effects
  • Apoptosis / physiology
  • Benzamides
  • Cell Division / drug effects
  • Cell Division / physiology
  • DNA-Binding Proteins / antagonists & inhibitors
  • DNA-Binding Proteins / biosynthesis
  • DNA-Binding Proteins / metabolism*
  • Enzyme Inhibitors / pharmacology
  • Female
  • Gastrointestinal Neoplasms / metabolism*
  • Gastrointestinal Neoplasms / pathology
  • Humans
  • Imatinib Mesylate
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Phosphorylation
  • Piperazines / pharmacology
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-bcl-2 / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-bcl-2 / biosynthesis
  • Pyrimidines / pharmacology
  • STAT3 Transcription Factor
  • Signal Transduction / drug effects
  • Stromal Cells / metabolism
  • Stromal Cells / pathology
  • Trans-Activators / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Trans-Activators / biosynthesis
  • Trans-Activators / metabolism*
  • Tyrphostins / pharmacology


  • Benzamides
  • DNA-Binding Proteins
  • Enzyme Inhibitors
  • Piperazines
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-bcl-2
  • Pyrimidines
  • STAT3 Transcription Factor
  • STAT3 protein, human
  • Trans-Activators
  • Tyrphostins
  • alpha-cyano-(3,4-dihydroxy)-N-benzylcinnamide
  • Imatinib Mesylate