The aberrantly expressed signal transducer and activator of transcription 3 (STAT3) predicts poor prognosis, primarily in estrogen receptor positive (ER(+)) breast cancers. Activated STAT3 is overexpressed in luminal A subtype cells. The mechanisms contributing to the prognosis and/or subtype relevant features of STAT3 in ER(+) breast cancers are through multiple interacting regulatory pathways, including STAT3-MYC, STAT3-ERα, and STAT3-MYC-ERα interactions, as well as the direct action of activated STAT3. These data predict malignant events, treatment responses and a novel enhancer of tamoxifen resistance. The inferred crosstalk between ERα and STAT3 in regulating their shared target gene-METAP2 is partially validated in the luminal B breast cancer cell line-MCF7. Taken together, we identify a poor prognosis relevant gene set within the STAT3 network and a robust one in a subset of patients. VEGFA, ABL1, LYN, IGF2R and STAT3 are suggested therapeutic targets for further study based upon the degree of differential expression in our model.
Keywords: STAT3 transcriptional regulatory network; TAM resistance; breast cancer; prognosis; tumorigenesis.