Significance of signal transducer and activator of transcription 3 during multistage mouse skin carcinogenesis

Keith Syson Chan, The University of Texas Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences at Houston


Signal transducer and activator of transcription 3 (Stat3) is a signaling molecule that transduces signal from cell surface receptors, itself translocates into the nucleus, binds to consensus promoter sequences and activates gene transcription. Here, we showed that Stat3 is constitutively activated in both premalignant tumors (papillomas) and squamous cell carcinomas of mouse skin that is induced by topical treatment with an initiator 7,12-dimethylbenz[a]anthracene (DMBA) followed by a tumor promoter 12-O-tetradecanoyl-phorbol-13-acetate (TPA). Additional data demonstrated that epidermal growth factor signaling contributes to the activation of Stat3 in this model. Using mice where Stat3 function is abrogated in keratinocytes via the Cre-LoxP system (K5Cre.Stat3 flox/flox), we demonstrated that Stat3 is required for de novo carcinogenesis since Stat3 deficiency leads to a complete abrogation of skin tumor development induced by DMBA and TPA. We subsequently showed that Stat3 plays a role in both the initiation and promotion stages of carcinogenesis. During initiation, Stat3 functions as an anti-apoptotic molecule for maintaining the survival of DNA-damaged keratinocyte stem cells. During promotion, Stat3 functions as a critical regulator for G1 to S phase cell cycle progression to confer selective clonal expansion of initiated cells into papillomas. On the other hand, using transgenic mice over-expressing a constitutively dimerized form of Stat3 (Stat3C) in keratinocytes (K5.Stat3C), we revealed a role for Stat3 in tumor progression. After treatment with DMBA and TPA, K5.Stat3C transgenic mice developed skin tumors with a shorter latency when 100% bypassed the premalignant stage and became carcinoma in situ. Histological and immunohistochemical analysis revealed these tumors as highly vascularized and poorly differentiated. More strikingly, these tumors exhibited invasion into surrounding mesenchymal tissue, some of which metastasized into lung. The tumor-mesenchymal front was characterized by partial loss of E-cadherin and elevation of vimentin, markers characterizing epithelial-mesenchymal transition. On the other hand, inhibition of Stat3 via a decoy oligonucleotide led to a significant reduction of tumor size in approximately 50% of all papillomas tested. In conclusion, we demonstrated that Stat3 plays a critical in all three stages (initiation, promotion and progression) of skin carcinogenesis, and it may potentially become a good target for cancer prevention and anti-cancer therapy.

Subject Area

Molecular biology|Oncology

Recommended Citation

Chan, Keith Syson, "Significance of signal transducer and activator of transcription 3 during multistage mouse skin carcinogenesis" (2004). Texas Medical Center Dissertations (via ProQuest). AAI3138878.