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Oncogene. 2005 Aug 25;24(36):5552-60.

Targeting Stat3 blocks both HIF-1 and VEGF expression induced by multiple oncogenic growth signaling pathways.

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H Lee Moffitt Cancer Center and Research Institute, Department of Interdisciplinary Oncology, University of South Florida College of Medicine, Tampa, FL 33612, USA.


Vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) upregulation is induced by many receptor and intracellular oncogenic proteins commonly activated in cancer, rendering molecular targeting of VEGF expression a complex challenge. While VEGF inducers abound, only two major transcription activators have been identified for its promoter: hypoxia inducible factor-1 (HIF-1) and signal transducer and activator of transcription (Stat3). Both HIF-1 expression and Stat3 activity are upregulated in diverse cancers. Here, we provide evidence that Stat3 is required for both basal and growth signal-induced expression of HIF-1. Moreover, induction of VEGF by diverse oncogenic growth stimuli, including IL-6R, c-Src, Her2/Neu, is attenuated in cells without Stat3 signaling. We further demonstrate that Stat3 regulates expression of Akt, which is required for growth signal-induced HIF-1 upregulation. Targeting Stat3 with a small-molecule inhibitor blocks HIF-1 and VEGF expression in vitro and inhibits tumor growth and angiogenesis in vivo. Furthermore, tumor cells' in vivo angiogenic capacity induced by IL-6R, which simultaneously activates Jak/STAT and PI3K/Akt pathways, is abrogated when Stat3 is inhibited. Activation of Stat3 signaling by various growth signaling is prevalent in diverse cancers. Results presented here demonstrate that Stat3 is an effective target for inhibiting tumor VEGF expression and angiogenesis.

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