STAT3 is activated by JAK2 independent of key oncogenic driver mutations in non-small cell lung carcinoma

PLoS One. 2012;7(2):e30820. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0030820. Epub 2012 Feb 2.


Constitutive activation of STAT3 is a common feature in many solid tumors including non-small cell lung carcinoma (NSCLC). While activation of STAT3 is commonly achieved by somatic mutations to JAK2 in hematologic malignancies, similar mutations are not often found in solid tumors. Previous work has instead suggested that STAT3 activation in solid tumors is more commonly induced by hyperactive growth factor receptors or autocrine cytokine signaling. The interplay between STAT3 activation and other well-characterized oncogenic "driver" mutations in NSCLC has not been fully characterized, though constitutive STAT3 activation has been proposed to play an important role in resistance to various small-molecule therapies that target these oncogenes. In this study we demonstrate that STAT3 is constitutively activated in human NSCLC samples and in a variety of NSCLC lines independent of activating KRAS or tyrosine kinase mutations. We further show that genetic or pharmacologic inhibition of the gp130/JAK2 signaling pathway disrupts activation of STAT3. Interestingly, treatment of NSCLC cells with the JAK1/2 inhibitor ruxolitinib has no effect on cell proliferation and viability in two-dimensional culture, but inhibits growth in soft agar and xenograft assays. These data demonstrate that JAK2/STAT3 signaling operates independent of known driver mutations in NSCLC and plays critical roles in tumor cell behavior that may not be effectively inhibited by drugs that selectively target these driver mutations.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Antineoplastic Agents / pharmacology
  • Carcinoma, Non-Small-Cell Lung / genetics
  • Carcinoma, Non-Small-Cell Lung / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Janus Kinase 2 / metabolism*
  • Lung Neoplasms / genetics
  • Lung Neoplasms / metabolism*
  • Mutation / physiology*
  • Pyrazoles / pharmacology
  • STAT3 Transcription Factor / metabolism*
  • Signal Transduction
  • Tumor Cells, Cultured


  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • INCB018424
  • Pyrazoles
  • STAT3 Transcription Factor
  • STAT3 protein, human
  • JAK2 protein, human
  • Janus Kinase 2