The Janus kinase (JAK)/signal transducer and activator of transcription (STAT) pathways, especially the JAK2/STAT3 pathway, play vital roles in the development of many malignancies. Overactivation of STAT3 promotes cancer cell survival and proliferation. Therefore, the JAK2/STAT3-signaling pathway has been considered a promising target for cancer therapy. In this study, we identified a natural compound 3-deoxy-2β,16-dihydroxynagilactone E (B6) from the traditional Chinese medicinal plant Podocarpus nagi as a potent inhibitor of STAT3 signaling. B6 preferentially inhibited the phosphorylation of STAT3 by interacting with and inactivating JAK2, the main upstream kinase of STAT3. B6 dose-dependently inhibited IL-6-induced STAT3 signaling with an IC50 of 0.2 μM. In contrast to other JAK2 inhibitors, B6 did not interact with the catalytic domain but instead with the FERM-SH2 domain of JAK2. This interaction was JAK-specific since B6 had little effect on other tyrosine kinases. Furthermore, B6 potently inhibited the growth and induced apoptosis of MDA-MB-231 and MDA-MB-468 breast cancer cells with overactivated STAT3. Taken together, our study uncovers a novel compound and a novel mechanism for the regulation of JAK2 and offers a new therapeutic approach for the treatment of cancers with overactivated JAK2/STAT3.
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This work was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (grant 81673465 to QY). We thank Xin-yuan Fu (National University of Singapore) for providing HepG2/STAT3 and HepG2/STAT1 cells. We also thank Hui Wang (Shanghai Institute of Materia Medica) for help with the amino acid sequence analysis.
The authors declare no competing interests.
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