Bacterial N-acylhomoserine lactone-induced apoptosis in breast carcinoma cells correlated with down-modulation of STAT3

Oncogene. 2004 Jun 17;23(28):4894-902. doi: 10.1038/sj.onc.1207612.


Cell growth is promoted by mitogens and survival factors, which activate intracellular signalling pathways to control cell cycle progression and cellular integrity. Proliferation signals are transmitted through Ras and Rho family small G-proteins coupled to mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) cascades, while survival signals are propagated by lipid-dependent kinases such as phosphatidylinositide 3-kinases (PI3Ks) and protein kinase B (Akt/PKB). Recently, signal transducer and activator of transcription (STAT) proteins were identified as positive regulators of proliferation in a variety of cell types. Persistent activation of these pathways is associated with tumour cell growth, whereas their inhibition can halt proliferation and precipitate apoptotic cell death. The human pathogen Pseudomonas aeruginosa uses quorum-sensing signal molecules (QSSMs) to regulate virulence gene expression. QSSMs also suppress host immune responses although the mechanism of suppression is unknown. Here, we demonstrate that the QSSM N-(3-oxododecanoyl)-L-homoserine lactone (OdDHL) from P. aeruginosa blocks proliferation and induces apoptosis in human BC cell lines. Analyses of signalling events reveal that OdDHL has little or no effect on MAPK cascades, partially inhibits the Akt/PKB pathway and ablates STAT3 activity. Pharmacological inhibition of each pathway independently indicates that STAT3 activity is critical for BC cell proliferation and survival, while a constitutively active STAT3 confers resistance to OdDHL. These results support the notion of OdDHL as a bioactive molecule in eukaryotic systems and a paradigm for a novel class of antiproliferative compounds.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • 4-Butyrolactone / analogs & derivatives
  • 4-Butyrolactone / toxicity*
  • Acute-Phase Proteins / genetics
  • Apoptosis / drug effects*
  • Breast Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Cell Division / drug effects
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • DNA-Binding Proteins / genetics*
  • Female
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Neoplastic / drug effects*
  • Humans
  • STAT3 Transcription Factor
  • Trans-Activators / genetics*


  • Acute-Phase Proteins
  • DNA-Binding Proteins
  • STAT3 Transcription Factor
  • STAT3 protein, human
  • Trans-Activators
  • homoserine lactone
  • 4-Butyrolactone