Abstract: Signal Transducers and Activators of Transcription (STATs) are a family of transcription factors that regulate cell proliferation, differentiation, apoptosis, immune and inflammatory responses, and angiogenesis. Cumulative evidence has established that STAT3 has a critical role in the development of multiple cancer types. Because it is constitutively activated during disease progression and metastasis in a variety of cancers, STAT3 has promise as a drug target for cancer therapeutics. Recently, STAT3 was found to have an important role in maintaining cancer stem cells in vitro and in mouse tumor models, suggesting STAT3 is integrally involved in tumor initiation, progression and maintenance. STAT3 has been traditionally considered as nontargetable or undruggable, and the lag in developing effective STAT3 inhibitors contributes to the current lack of FDA-approved STAT3 inhibitors. Recent advances in cancer biology and drug discovery efforts have shed light on targeting STAT3 globally and/or specifically for cancer therapy. In this review, we summarize current literature and discuss the potential importance of STAT3 as a novel target for cancer prevention and of STAT3 inhibitors as effective chemopreventive agents.
Abstract: Since its discovery, the STAT3 transcription factor has been extensively studied for its function as a transcriptional regulator and its role as a mediator of development, normal physiology, and pathology of many diseases, including cancers. These efforts have uncovered an array of genes that can be positively and negatively regulated by STAT3, alone and in cooperation with other transcription factors. Through regulating gene expression, STAT3 has been demonstrated to play a pivotal role in many cellular processes including oncogenesis, tumor growth and progression, and stemness. Interestingly, recent studies suggest that STAT3 may behave as a tumor suppressor by activating expression of genes known to inhibit tumorigenesis. Additional evidence suggested that STAT3 may elicit opposing effects depending on cellular context and tumor types. These mixed results signify the need for a deeper understanding of STAT3, including its upstream regulators, parallel transcription co-regulators, and downstream target genes. To help facilitate fulfilling this unmet need, this review will be primarily focused on STAT3 downstream target genes that have been validated to associate with tumorigenesis and/or malignant biology of human cancers.
Abstract: In both Drosophila and mammalian systems, the Hippo (Hpo) signalling pathway controls tissue growth by inhibiting cell proliferation and promoting apoptosis. The core pathway consists of a protein kinase Hpo (MST1/2 in mammals) that is regulated by a number of upstream inputs including Drosophila Ras Association Factor, dRASSF. We have previously shown in the developing Drosophila eye epithelium that loss of the apico-basal cell polarity regulator lethal-(2)-giant-larvae (lgl), and the concomitant increase in aPKC activity, results in ectopic proliferation and suppression of developmental cell death by blocking Hpo pathway signalling. Here, we further explore how Lgl/aPKC interacts with the Hpo pathway. Deregulation of the Hpo pathway by Lgl depletion is associated with the mislocalization of Hpo and dRASSF. We demonstrate that Lgl/aPKC regulate the Hpo pathway independently of upstream inputs from Fat/Dachs and the Kibra/Expanded/Merlin complex. We show depletion of Lgl also results in accumulation and mislocalization of components of the dSTRIPAK complex, a major phosphatase complex that directly binds to dRASSF and represses Hpo activity. However, depleting dSTRIPAK components, or removal of dRASSF did not rescue the lgl−/− or aPKC overexpression phenotypes. Thus, Lgl/aPKC regulate Hpo activity by a novel mechanism, independently of dRASSF and dSTRIPAK. Surprisingly, removal of dRASSF in tissue with increased aPKC activity results in mild tissue overgrowth, indicating that in this context dRASSF acts as a tumor suppressor. This effect was independent of the Hpo and Ras Mitogen Activated Protein Kinase (MAPK) pathways, suggesting that dRASSF regulates a novel pathway to control tissue growth.
Abstract: The protein kinase C (PKC) family proteins are important signal transducers and have long been the focus of cancer research. PKCɛ, a member of this family, is overexpressed in most solid tumors and plays critical roles in different processes that lead to cancer development. Studies using cell lines and animal models demonstrated the transforming potential of PKCɛ. While earlier research established the survival functions of PKCɛ, recent studies revealed its role in cell migration, invasion and cancer metastasis. PKCɛ has also been implicated in epithelial to mesenchymal transition (EMT), which may be the underlying mechanism by which it contributes to cell motility. In addition, PKCɛ affects cell-extracellular matrix (ECM) interactions by direct regulation of the cytoskeletal elements. Recent studies have also linked PKCɛ signaling to cancer stem cell functioning. This review focuses on the role of PKCɛ in different processes that lead to cancer development and progression. We also discussed current literatures on the pursuit of PKCɛ as a target for cancer therapy.
Abstract: The signal transducer and activator of transcription (STAT)3 governs essential functions of epithelial and hematopoietic cells that are often dysregulated in cancer. While the role for STAT3 in promoting the progression of many solid and hematopoietic malignancies is well established, this review will focus on the importance of STAT3 in prostate cancer progression to the incurable metastatic castration-resistant prostate cancer (mCRPC). Indeed, STAT3 integrates different signaling pathways involved in the reactivation of androgen receptor pathway, stem like cells and the epithelial to mesenchymal transition that drive progression to mCRPC. As equally important, STAT3 regulates interactions between tumor cells and the microenvironment as well as immune cell activation. This makes it a major factor in facilitating prostate cancer escape from detection of the immune response, promoting an immunosuppressive environment that allows growth and metastasis. Based on the multifaceted nature of STAT3 signaling in the progression to mCRPC, the promise of STAT3 as a therapeutic target to prevent prostate cancer progression and the variety of STAT3 inhibitors used in cancer therapies is discussed.
Abstract: Newly formed microvessels in most solid tumors show an abnormal morphology and thus do not fulfil the metabolic demands of the growing tumor mass. Due to the chaotic and heterogeneous tumor microcirculation, a hostile tumor microenvironment develops, that is characterized inter alia by local hypoxia, which in turn can stimulate the HIF-system. The latter can lead to tumor progression and may be involved in hypoxia-mediated radioresistance of tumor cells. Herein, cellular and molecular mechanisms in tumor angiogenesis are discussed that, among others, might impact hypoxia-related radioresistance.