Mitochondrial STAT3 plays a major role in IgE-antigen-mediated mast cell exocytosis

J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2014 Aug;134(2):460-9. doi: 10.1016/j.jaci.2013.12.1075. Epub 2014 Feb 28.


Background: The involvement of mitochondrial oxidative phosphorylation (OXPHOS) in mast cell exocytosis was recently suggested by the finding that mitochondria translocate to exocytosis sites upon mast cell activation. In parallel, mitochondrial signal transducer and activator of transcription 3 (STAT3) was found to be involved in ATP production. However, the regulation of mitochondrial STAT3 function and its connection to mast cell exocytosis is unknown.

Objective: We sought to explore the role played by mitochondrial STAT3 in mast cell exocytosis.

Methods: Experiments were performed in vitro with human and mouse mast cells and rat basophilic leukemia (RBL) cells and in vivo in mice. OXPHOS activity was measured after immunologic activation. The expression of STAT3, extracellular signal-regulated kinase 1/2, and protein inhibitor of activated STAT3 in the mitochondria during mast cell activation was determined, as was the effect of STAT3 inhibition on OXPHOS activity and mast cell function.

Results: Here we show that mitochondrial STAT3 is essential for immunologically mediated degranulation of human and mouse mast cells and RBL cells. Additionally, in IgE-antigen-activated RBL cells, mitochondrial STAT3 was phosphorylated on serine 727 in an extracellular signal-regulated kinase 1/2-dependent manner, which was followed by induction of OXPHOS activity. Furthermore, the endogenous inhibitor of STAT3, protein inhibitor of activated STAT3, was found to inhibit OXPHOS activity in the mitochondria, resulting in inhibition of mast cell degranulation. Moreover, mice injected with Stattic, a STAT3 inhibitor, had a significant decrease in histamine secretion.

Conclusion: These results provide the first evidence of a regulatory role for mitochondrial STAT3 in mast cell functions, and therefore mitochondrial STAT3 could serve as a new target for the manipulation of allergic diseases.

Keywords: Allergy; PIAS3; STAT3; cytokines; degranulation; mast cells; mitochondria.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antigens / immunology
  • Antigens / pharmacology
  • Cell Degranulation / drug effects
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Cyclic S-Oxides / pharmacology
  • Dinitrophenols / immunology
  • Dinitrophenols / pharmacology
  • Exocytosis / drug effects
  • Gene Expression Regulation
  • Humans
  • Immunoglobulin E / genetics*
  • Immunoglobulin E / immunology
  • Mast Cells / drug effects
  • Mast Cells / immunology
  • Mast Cells / pathology*
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C3H
  • Mitochondria / genetics
  • Mitochondria / immunology
  • Mitochondrial Proteins / genetics
  • Mitochondrial Proteins / immunology
  • Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinase 1 / genetics
  • Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinase 1 / immunology
  • Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinase 3 / genetics
  • Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinase 3 / immunology
  • Oxidative Phosphorylation
  • Protein Inhibitors of Activated STAT / genetics
  • Protein Inhibitors of Activated STAT / immunology
  • Rats
  • STAT3 Transcription Factor / antagonists & inhibitors
  • STAT3 Transcription Factor / genetics
  • STAT3 Transcription Factor / immunology*
  • Signal Transduction


  • Antigens
  • Cyclic S-Oxides
  • Dinitrophenols
  • Mitochondrial Proteins
  • Pias3 protein, mouse
  • Protein Inhibitors of Activated STAT
  • STAT3 Transcription Factor
  • STAT3 protein, human
  • Stat3 protein, mouse
  • stattic
  • Immunoglobulin E
  • MAPK1 protein, human
  • Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinase 1
  • Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinase 3