Critical analysis of the potential for targeting STAT3 in human malignancy

Onco Targets Ther. 2013 Jul 30;6:999-1010. doi: 10.2147/OTT.S47903. Print 2013.


The signal transducer and activator of transcription (STAT) family of proteins was originally discovered in the context of normal cell biology where they function to transduce intracellular and extracellular signals to the nucleus, ultimately leading to transcription of specific target genes and downstream phenotypic effects. It was quickly appreciated that the STATs, especially STAT3, play a fundamental role in human malignancy. In contrast to normal biology in which transient STAT3 signaling is strictly regulated by a tightly coordinated network of activators and deactivators, STAT3 is constitutively activated in human malignancies. Constitutive STAT3 signaling has been associated with many cancerous phenotypes across nearly all human cancers, including the upregulation of cell growth, proliferation, survival, and motility, among others. Studies involving candidate preclinical STAT3 inhibitors have further demonstrated that the reversal of these phenotypes results from pharmacologic or genetic inhibition of STAT3, suggesting that STAT3 may be a promising target for clinical interventions. Indeed, a Phase 0 clinical trial involving a STAT3 decoy oligonucleotide demonstrated that STAT3 is a drug-gable target in human tumors. Because of the ubiquity of overactive STAT3 in cancer, its role in promoting a wide variety of cancerous phenotypes, and the strong clinical and preclinical studies performed to date, STAT3 represents a promising target for the development of inhibitors for the treatment of human cancers.

Keywords: STAT3; cancer; target; transcription factor.