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Clin Cancer Res. 2012 Jan 1;18(1):127-39. doi: 10.1158/1078-0432.CCR-11-1889. Epub 2011 Nov 16.

STAT5A-mediated SOCS2 expression regulates Jak2 and STAT3 activity following c-Src inhibition in head and neck squamous carcinoma.

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Department of Thoracic/Head and Neck Medical Oncology, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, Texas 77030, USA.



The inhibition of c-Src results in a striking reduction in cancer cell invasion, but the effect on cell survival is modest. Defining mechanisms that limit apoptosis following c-Src inhibition could result in an ideal therapeutic approach that both inhibits invasion and leads to apoptosis. In this regard, we discovered a novel feedback loop that results in STAT3 reactivation following sustained c-Src inhibition. Here we define the mechanism underlying this feedback loop and examine the effect of inhibiting it in vivo.


We measured levels and activity of pathway components using PCR, Western blotting, and kinase assays following their manipulation using both molecular and pharmacologic approaches. We used a heterotransplant animal model in which human oral squamous cancer is maintained exclusively in vivo.


Following c-Src inhibition, STAT5 is durably inhibited. The inhibition of STAT5A, but not STAT5B, subsequently reduces the expression of suppressors of cytokine signaling 2 (SOCS2). SOCS2 inhibits Janus kinase 2 (Jak2) activity and Jak2-STAT3 binding. SOCS2 expression is necessary for STAT3 inhibition by c-Src inhibitors. Overexpression of SOCS2 is adequate to prevent STAT3 reactivation and to enhance the cytotoxic effects of c-Src inhibition. Likewise, the combination of Jak and c-Src inhibitors led to significantly more apoptosis than either agent alone in vivo.


To our knowledge, ours is the first study that fully defines the mechanism underlying this feedback loop, in which sustained c-Src inhibition leads to diminished SOCS2 expression via sustained inhibition of STAT5A, allowing activation of Jak2 and STAT3, Jak2-STAT3 binding, and survival signals.

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