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J Biol Chem. 2000 Jan 21;275(3):2147-56.

Activation of the Stat3 signaling pathway is required for differentiation by interleukin-6 in PC12-E2 cells.

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Departments of Physiology and Biophysics, College of Medicine, University of California, Irvine, California 92697, USA.


The role of signal transducer and activator of transcription (STAT) signaling pathways in the interleukin-6 (IL-6)-induced morphological differentiation of PC12-E2 cells was assessed using wild type and dominant negative mutants of Stat1 and Stat3, containing Tyr --> Phe (YF), Ser --> Ala (SA), and the double mutations (DM), respectively. FS3-YF or FS3-DM markedly inhibited the IL-6-induced response, but overexpression of FS3-SA caused only a modest inhibition. Expression of all Stat3 mutants had no effect on NGF-induced neurite outgrowth. Overexpression of wild type Stat1 protein inhibited IL-6 activated DNA binding complexes containing Stat3 homodimers, which may explain the partial negative effect of Stat1 on IL-6-induced neurite outgrowth. Specificity of these STAT constructs was confirmed using luciferase reporter gene assays, which showed that IL-6-activated transcription was blocked by expression of FS3-YF and FS3-DM and that FS1 enhanced the interferon gamma-activated transcription. Thus, in PC12-E2 cells, Stat3 homodimers are preferentially activated by IL-6, indicating a role for Stat3 in the regulation of cellular differentiation. Furthermore, IL-6 induced robust neurite outgrowth in PC12-E2 cells expressing dominant negative forms of RAS or SHC or in cells pretreated with the mitogen-activated protein kinase mitogen-activated protein kinase kinase inhibitor, PD98059. Thus, activation of the Stat3 signaling pathway, but not RAS/ERK dependent pathways, is essential for differentiation of PC12-E2 cells by IL-6.

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