Transcription factors, STAT3 Transcription Factor


With the critical role of aberrantly active Signal Transducer and Activator of Transcription (Stat) 3 protein in many human cancers, selective small-molecule inhibitors targeting the dimerization event which is required for stat3 activation, would be valuable as therapeutic agents. And the inhibitors will be useful chemical probes to clarify the complex biological functions of Stat3. By computational and structural analyses of the interaction between Stat3 and the lead dimerization disruptor, S3I-201, we have designed a diverse set of analogs. One of the most active analogs, S3I-201.1066 is derived to contain a cyclo-hexyl benzyl moiety on the amide nitrogen, which increases the binding to the Stat3 SH2 domain. Evidence is presented from in vitro biochemical and biophysical studies that S3I-201.1066 directly interacts with Stat3 or the SH2 domain, with an affinity (K[subscript D]) of 2.74 [micrometer], and disrupts the binding of Stat3 to the cognate pTyr-peptide, GpYLPQTV-NH2, with an IC₅₀ of 23 [micrometer]. Moreover, S3I-201.1066 selectively blocks the association of Stat3 with the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR), and inhibits Stat3 tyrosine phosphorylation and nuclear translocation in EGF-stimulated mouse fibroblasts. In cancer cells that harbor aberrant Stat3 activity, S3I-201.1066 inhibits constitutive Stat3 DNA-binding and transcriptional activities.

By contrast, S3I-201.1066 has no effect on Src activation or the EGFR-mediated activation of the Erk1/2MAPK pathway. S3I-201.1066 selectively suppresses the viability, survival, and malignant transformation of the human breast and pancreatic cancer lines and the v-Src-transformed mouse fibroblasts harboring persistently active Stat3. Treatment with S3I-201.1066 on malignant cells harboring aberrantly active Stat3 down regulated the expression of c-Myc, Bcl-xL, Survivin, matrix metalloproteinase 9, and VEGF, which are known Stat3-regulated genes important in diverse tumor processes. The in vivo administration of S3I-201.1066 induced significant anti-tumor response in mouse models of human breast cancer, which correlates with the inhibition of constitutively active Stat3 and the suppression of known Stat3-regulated genes. Further computer-aided lead optimization derives higher-affinity (K[subscript D], 504 nM), orally bioavailable Stat3 SH2 domain-binding ligand, BP-1-102 as a structural analog of S3I-201.1066. The most significant modification is the pentafluorobenzene sulfonamide component of BP-1-102, which permits accessibility of a third sub-pocket of the Stat3 SH2 domain surface. BP-1-102-mediated inhibition of aberrantly-active Stat3 in human pancreatic cancer, Panc-1, breast cancer, MDA-MB-231, and prostate (DU145) cancer cells and in the mouse transformed fibroblasts harboring aberrantly-active Stat3.

It also disrupts Stat3-NF[kappa]B cross-talk and suppresses the release of granulocyte colony-stimulating factor, soluble intercellular adhesion molecule-1, macrophage-migration-inhibitory factor/glycosylation-inhibiting factor, interleukin-1 receptor antagonist and the serine protease inhibitor (serpin) protein 1, and the expression of c-Myc, Cyclin D1, Bcl-xL, Survivin, and vascular endothelial growth factor expression in vitro and in vivo. Inhibition of tumor cell-associated constitutively-active Stat3 further suppresses focal adhesion kinase and paxillin induction, enhances E-cadherin expression, and down-regulates Kruüppel-like factor 8 expression. Consequently, BP-1-102 selectively suppresses anchorage-dependent and independent growth, survival, migration and invasion of Stat3-dependent tumor cells in vitro. Intravenous or oral gavage delivery of BP-1-102 furnishes micromolar or microgram levels in tumor tissues and inhibits growth of mouse xenografts of human breast and lung tumors. Computer-aided lead optimization has therefore derived a more suitable small-molecule inhibitor as a drug candidate. Our studies of the Stat3 SH2 protein surface and of the interactions between lead agents and the SH2 domain provided significant data to facilitate the structural optimization. From S2I-201 to S3I-201.1066 and to BP-1-102, we note the substantial gain in potency and efficacy, and the pharmacokinetic improvements. The oral bioavailability of BP-1-102 represents a substantial advancement in the discovery of small-molecule Stat3 inhibitors as novel anticancer agents.


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Turkson, James


Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)


College of Medicine


Burnett School of Biomedical Sciences








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Doctoral Dissertation (Open Access)