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PLoS One. 2009 Jun 8;4(6):e5821. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0005821.

STAT1 pathway mediates amplification of metastatic potential and resistance to therapy.

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Department of Radiation and Cellular Oncology, University of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois, United States of America.



Traditionally IFN/STAT1 signaling is connected with an anti-viral response and pro-apoptotic tumor-suppressor functions. Emerging functions of a constitutively activated IFN/STAT1 pathway suggest an association with an aggressive tumor phenotype. We hypothesized that tumor clones that constitutively overexpress this pathway are preferentially selected by the host microenvironment due to a resistance to STAT1-dependent cytotoxicity and demonstrate increased metastatic ability combined with increased resistance to genotoxic stress.


Here we report that clones of B16F1 tumors grown in the lungs of syngeneic C57BL/6 mice demonstrate variable transcriptional levels of IFN/STAT1 pathway expression. Tumor cells that constitutively overexpress the IFN/STAT1 pathway (STAT1(H) genotype) are selected by the lung microenvironment. STAT1(H) tumor cells also demonstrate resistance to IFN-gamma (IFNgamma), ionizing radiation (IR), and doxorubicin relative to parental B16F1 and low expressors of the IFN/STAT1 pathway (STAT1(L) genotype). Stable knockdown of STAT1 reversed the aggressive phenotype and decreased both lung colonization and resistance to genotoxic stress.


Our results identify a pathway activated by tumor-stromal interactions thereby selecting for pro-metastatic and therapy-resistant tumor clones. New therapies targeted against the IFN/STAT1 signaling pathway may provide an effective strategy to treat or sensitize aggressive tumor clones to conventional cancer therapies and potentially prevent distant organ colonization.

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