Signal transducers and activators of transcription (STATs) are, as the name indicates, both signal transducers and transcription factors. STATs are activated by cytokines and some growth factors and thus control important biological processes. These include cell growth, cell differentiation, apoptosis and immune responses. Dysregulation of STATs, either due to constitutive activation or function impairment, can have, therefore, deleterious biological consequences. This review places particular emphasis on their structural organization, biological activities and regulatory mechanisms most commonly utilized by cells to control STAT-mediated signalling. STATs also play important roles in cancer and immune deficiencies and are thus being exploited as therapeutic targets.
2011 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.