Cytokine signals are essential for generating a robust and specialized immune response. These signals are typically transmitted via canonical STAT homodimers. However, the number of STAT molecules utilized by cytokine signaling cascades within immune cells are limited, and so the mechanism used to deliver complex signals remains elusive. Heterodimerization of STAT proteins is one potential mechanism for signals to be modified downstream of the receptor and may play an important role in dictating the targets of specific cytokine signaling. In this review, we discuss our current understanding of the prevalence of STAT heterodimers, how they are formed and what their physiologic role may be in vivo.
Keywords: STAT; cytokine; heterodimer; homodimer; signaling.