Chronic Inhibition of STAT3/STAT5 in Treatment-Resistant Human Breast Cancer Cell Subtypes: Convergence on the ROS/SUMO Pathway and Its Effects on xCT Expression and System xc- Activity
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Pharmacologically targeting activated STAT3 and/or STAT5 has been an active area of cancer research. The cystine/glutamate antiporter, system xc-, contributes to redox balance and export of intracellularly produced glutamate in response to up-regulated glutaminolysis in cancer cells. We have previously shown that blocking STAT3/5 using the small molecule inhibitor, SH-4-54, which targets the SH2 domains of both proteins, increases xCT expression, thereby increasing system xc- activity in human breast cancer cells. The current investigation demonstrates that chronic SH-4-54 administration, followed by clonal selection of treatment-resistant MDA-MB-231 and T47D breast cancer cells, elicits distinct subtype-dependent effects. xCT mRNA and protein levels, glutamate release, and cystine uptake are decreased relative to untreated passage-matched controls in triple-negative MDA-MB-231 cells, with the inverse occurring in estrogen-responsive T47D cells. This "ying-yang" effect is linked with a shifted balance between the phosphorylation status of STAT3 and STAT5, intracellular ROS levels, and STAT5 SUMOylation/de-SUMOylation. STAT5 emerged as a definitive negative regulator of xCT at the transcriptional level, while STAT3 activation is coupled with increased system xc- activity. We propose that careful classification of a patient's breast cancer subtype is central to effectively targeting STAT3/5 as a therapeutic means of treating breast cancer, particularly given that xCT is emerging as an important biomarker of aggressive cancers.
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