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The Role of STATs in Apoptosis

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Signal transducers and activators of transcription (STATs) are transcription factors that mediate cytokine and growth factor induced signals that culminate in various biological responses, including proliferation and differentiation. Recent studies indicate a role for STATs in apoptosis as well. Depending upon the particular stimulus or cell type, STATs can mediate either pro-apoptotic signals or anti-apoptotic signals. STAT1 and, under some circums-tances, STAT3 are important for transducing pro-apoptotic signals whereas STAT3 and STAT5 have been implicated in promoting cell survival. Recent studies demonstrate that regulation of apoptotic pathways by STATs is largely due to transcriptional activation of genes that encode proteins that mediate or trigger the cell death process, such as Bcl-xL, caspases, Fas and TRAIL as well as those that regulate cell cycle progression, such as p21waf1. Interestingly, STAT proteins may also regulate apoptosis through a non-transcriptional mechanism by inhibiting the anti-apoptotic protein NF-kB. Considering that dysregulation of the STAT signaling pathway is commonly found in clinical tumor samples, understanding the mechanisms underlying STAT regulation of cell survival may lead to successful strategies for targeting STATs in cancer therapy.
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Keywords: signal transducer; stats; transcription factor; transcrition activator

Document Type: Review Article

Publication date: 2002-06-01

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  • Current Molecular Medicine is an interdisciplinary journal focused on providing the readership with current and comprehensive reviews on fundamental molecular mechanisms of disease pathogenesis, the development of molecular-diagnosis and/or novel approaches to rational treatment. The reviews should be of significant interest to basic researchers and clinical investigators in molecular medicine. Periodically the journal will invite guest editors to devote an issue on a basic research area that shows promise to advance our understanding of the molecular mechanism(s) of a disease or has potential for clinical applications.
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