Signal transducer and activator of transcription 6 (Stat6) is critical in Th2 polarization of immune cells and active Stat6 activity has been suggested in anti-tumor immunity in animal models. The present study aims at investigating the impact of natural Stat6 activity on tumor microenvironment in human colorectal cancer cells in vitro and in vivo. Using colorectal cancer cell lines HT-29 and Caco-2 whose IL-4/Stat6 activities were known and nude mice as a model, we examined correlative relationships between Stat6 activities and gene expression profiles together with cellular behaviors in vitro and in vivo. HT-29 cells carrying active Stat6 signaling displayed spontaneous expression profiles favoring Th2 cytokines, cell cycle promotion, anti-apoptosis and pro-metastasis with increased mRNA levels of IL-4, IL-13, GATA-3, CDK4, CD44v6 and S100A4 using RT-PCR. In contrast, Caco-2 cells carrying defective Stat6 signaling exhibited spontaneous expression profiles favoring Th1 and Th17 cytokines, cell cycle inhibition, pro-apoptosis and anti-metastasis with elevated mRNA expression of IFNγ, TNFα, IL-12A, IL-17, IL-23, T-bet, CDKN1A, CDKNIB, CDKN2A and NM23-H1. Xenograft tumors of Stat6-active HT-29 cells showed a growth advantage over those of Stat6-defective Caco-2 cells. Furthermore, mice bearing HT-29 tumors expressed increased levels of Th2 cytokines IL-4 and IL-5 in the blood and pro-growth and/or pro-metastasis proteins CDK4 and CD44v6 in the tumor. To the contrary, mice bearing Caco-2 tumors expressed heightened levels of Th1 cytokines IFNγ and TNF in the blood and pro-apoptosis and anti-metastatic proteins p53 and p27(kip1) in the tumor. Colorectal cancer cells carrying active Stat6 signaling may create a microenvironment favoring Th2 cytokines and promoting expression of genes related to pro-growth, pro-metastasis and anti-apoptosis, which leads to a tumor growth advantage in vivo. These findings may imply why Stat6 pathway is constitutively activated in a number of human malignancies.
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