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Cancer Res. 2003 Mar 15;63(6):1270-9.

Discovery of JSI-124 (cucurbitacin I), a selective Janus kinase/signal transducer and activator of transcription 3 signaling pathway inhibitor with potent antitumor activity against human and murine cancer cells in mice.

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  • 1Drug Discovery Program, H Lee Moffitt Cancer Center and Research Institute, Tampa, Florida 33612, USA.


Constitutively activated, tyrosine-phosphorylated signal transducer and activator of transcription (STAT) 3 plays a pivotal role in human tumor malignancy. To discover disrupters of aberrant STAT3 signaling pathways as novel anticancer drugs, we developed a phosphotyrosine STAT3 cytoblot. Using this high throughput 96-well plate assay, we identified JSI-124 (cucurbitacin I) from the National Cancer Institute Diversity Set. JSI-124 suppressed the levels of phosphotyrosine STAT3 in v-Src-transformed NIH 3T3 cells and human cancer cells potently (IC(50) value of 500 nM in the human lung adenocarcinoma A549) and rapidly (complete inhibition within 1-2 h). The suppression of phosphotyrosine STAT3 levels resulted in the inhibition of STAT3 DNA binding and STAT3-mediated but not serum response element-mediated gene transcription. JSI-124 also decreased the levels of tyrosine-phosphorylated Janus kinase (JAK) but not those of Src. JSI-124 was highly selective for JAK/STAT3 and did not inhibit other oncogenic and tumor survival pathways such as those mediated by Akt, extracellular signal-regulated kinase 1/2, or c-Jun NH(2)-terminal kinase. Finally, JSI-124 (1 mg/kg/day) potently inhibited the growth in nude mice of A549 tumors, v-Src-transformed NIH 3T3 tumors, and the human breast carcinoma MDA-MB-468, all of which express high levels of constitutively activated STAT3, but it did not affect the growth of oncogenic Ras-transformed NIH 3T3 tumors that are STAT3 independent or of the human lung adenocarcinoma Calu-1, which has barely detectable levels of phosphotyrosine STAT3. JSI-124 also inhibited tumor growth and significantly increased survival of immunologically competent mice bearing murine melanoma with constitutively activated STAT3. These results give strong support for pharmacologically targeting the JAK/STAT3 signaling pathway for anticancer drug discovery.

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