Stat3 enhances vimentin gene expression by binding to the antisilencer element and interacting with the repressor protein, ZBP-89

Oncogene. 2004 Jan 8;23(1):168-78. doi: 10.1038/sj.onc.1207003.


Vimentin exhibits a complex pattern of developmental- and tissue-specific expression and is aberrantly expressed in most metastatic tumors. The human vimentin promoter contains multiple DNA elements, some of which enhance gene expression and one that inhibits. A silencer element (at -319) binds the repressor ZBP-89. Further upstream (at -757) is an element, which acts positively in the presence of the silencer element and, thus, is referred to as an antisilencer (ASE). Previously, we showed that Stat1alpha binds to this element upon induction by IFN-gamma. However, substantial binding and reporter gene activity was still present in nontreated cells. Here, we have found that Stat3 binds to the ASE element in vitro. Transfection experiments in COS-1 cells with various vimentin promoter--reporter constructs show that gene activity is dependent upon the cotransfection and activation of Stat3. Moreover, activated Stat3 can overcome ZBP-89 repression. Coimmunoprecipitation studies demonstrate that Stat3 and ZBP-89 can interact and confocal microscopy detects these factors to be colocalized in the nucleus. Moreover, a correlation exists between the presence of activated Stat3 and vimentin expression in MDA-MB-231 cells, which is lacking in MCF7 cells where vimentin is not expressed. In the light of these results, we propose that the interaction of Stat3 and ZBP-89 may be crucial for overcoming the effects of the repressor ZBP-89, which suggests a novel mode for Stat3 gene activation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • COS Cells
  • DNA-Binding Proteins / metabolism*
  • DNA-Binding Proteins / physiology*
  • Electrophoretic Mobility Shift Assay
  • Epidermal Growth Factor / pharmacology
  • Gene Expression Regulation*
  • Humans
  • Repressor Proteins / metabolism*
  • STAT3 Transcription Factor
  • Silencer Elements, Transcriptional*
  • Trans-Activators / physiology*
  • Transcription Factors / metabolism*
  • Transcriptional Activation
  • Vimentin / genetics*


  • DNA-Binding Proteins
  • Repressor Proteins
  • STAT3 Transcription Factor
  • STAT3 protein, human
  • Trans-Activators
  • Transcription Factors
  • Vimentin
  • ZNF148 protein, human
  • Epidermal Growth Factor