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Tumour Biol. 2011 Jun;32(3):493-500. doi: 10.1007/s13277-010-0143-4. Epub 2010 Dec 21.

Downregulation of STAT3 signaling induces apoptosis but also promotes anti-apoptotic gene expression in human pancreatic cancer cell lines.

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Department of Internal Medicine II, Hematology and Oncology, University Hospital, Johann Wolfgang Goethe University, Frankfurt, Germany.


Signal transducer and activator of transcription 3 (STAT3) is a key regulator of cytokine signaling pathways that regulates gene expression. In pancreatic cancer, constitutive activation of STAT3 contributes to oncogenesis by preventing apoptosis through upregulation of anti-apoptotic proteins. We have examined the inhibition of STAT3 as a potential therapeutic approach in pancreatic cancer. siRNA targeting STAT3 was used to evaluate the role of STAT3 in modulating the expression of Survivin/BIRC5 and BCL-xL in the pancreatic cancer cell lines PANC-1 and BxPC-3 and induction of apoptosis. Expression of STAT3, Survivin/BIRC5, and BCL-xL on mRNA and protein level was measured by real-time RT-PCR and Western blot analysis 24, 48, and 72 h after transfection. STAT3 downregulation resulted in a decrease of cell viability in both cell lines and induced apoptosis in BxPC-3 cells. Despite significant inhibition of STAT3, the expression of the anti-apoptotic genes Survivin/BIRC5 and BCL-xL were not subsequently downregulated. Even more, the cell line BxPC-3 shows a significant increase of Survivin/BIRC5 and BCL-xL mRNA after 48-72 h as a result of STAT3 downregulation. Inactivation of STAT3 in pancreatic cancer cell lines induces apoptosis but also may promote the expression of anti-apoptotic genes.

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