Selective inhibition of STAT3 signaling using monobodies targeting the coiled-coil and N-terminal domains

Nat Commun. 2020 Aug 17;11(1):4115. doi: 10.1038/s41467-020-17920-z.


The transcription factor STAT3 is frequently activated in human solid and hematological malignancies and remains a challenging therapeutic target with no approved drugs to date. Here, we develop synthetic antibody mimetics, termed monobodies, to interfere with STAT3 signaling. These monobodies are highly selective for STAT3 and bind with nanomolar affinity to the N-terminal and coiled-coil domains. Interactome analysis detects no significant binding to other STATs or additional off-target proteins, confirming their exquisite specificity. Intracellular expression of monobodies fused to VHL, an E3 ubiquitin ligase substrate receptor, results in degradation of endogenous STAT3. The crystal structure of STAT3 in complex with monobody MS3-6 reveals bending of the coiled-coil domain, resulting in diminished DNA binding and nuclear translocation. MS3-6 expression strongly inhibits STAT3-dependent transcriptional activation and disrupts STAT3 interaction with the IL-22 receptor. Therefore, our study establishes innovative tools to interfere with STAT3 signaling by different molecular mechanisms.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • A549 Cells
  • Antibodies / genetics
  • Antibodies / metabolism*
  • Blotting, Western
  • Calorimetry
  • Crystallography, X-Ray
  • Flow Cytometry
  • Fluorescence Polarization
  • Fluorescent Antibody Technique
  • Humans
  • Mass Spectrometry
  • Protein Binding
  • Protein Domains / immunology
  • STAT3 Transcription Factor / genetics
  • STAT3 Transcription Factor / immunology
  • STAT3 Transcription Factor / metabolism*
  • Signal Transduction / genetics
  • Signal Transduction / physiology
  • Synthetic Biology


  • Antibodies
  • STAT3 Transcription Factor
  • STAT3 protein, human