STAT3 down regulates LC3 to inhibit autophagy and pancreatic cancer cell growth.
Oncotarget. 2014 May 15 ;5(9):2529-41. PMID: 24796733
The dismal 5-year survival (<5%) for pancreatic cancer (PanCA) underscores the need for developing effective therapeutic options. Recent studies from our laboratory have shown that Nexrutine® (Nx), a bark extract from Phellodendron amurense exhibits excellent anticancer activity in human pancreatic cancer cells through inhibition of inflammatory signaling via STAT3/NFκB/Cox-2. Given the apparent high oxidative stress and autophagic activity in pancreatic tumors, we investigated the potential of Nx to modulate autophagy, reactive oxygen species (ROS), and their crosstalk. Our results show that Nx inhibits autophagy and decreases ROS generation. Pharmacological inhibition of autophagy led to decreased ROS generation and proliferation with no significant effect on apoptosis. Further, using combination index analysis we also found that combination of late-stage autophagy inhibitor with Nx exhibited a moderate synergistic to additive effect. Additionally, genetic or pharmacological inactivation of STAT3 reduced LC3-II levels and expression indicating a possible role for STAT3in transcriptional regulation of autophagy. Since both inflammatory and oxidative stress signaling activate STAT3, our data implicates that STAT3 plays a vital role in the regulation of autophagy through its contributions to the positive feedback loop between ROS and autophagy. Overall, our findingsreveal an important role for STAT3/LC3/ROS in Nx-mediated anti-pancreatic cancer effects.