Int J Mol Sci 2018 Jun 16;19(6). Epub 2018 Jun 16.
Department of Systems Medicine, University of Tor Vergata, Via Montpellier 1, 00133, Rome, Italy.
Signal transducers and activators of transcription (STATs) mediate essential signaling pathways in different biological processes, including immune responses, hematopoiesis, and neurogenesis. Among the STAT members, STAT3 plays crucial roles in cell proliferation, survival, and differentiation. While STAT3 activation is transient in physiological conditions, STAT3 becomes persistently activated in a high percentage of solid and hematopoietic malignancies (e.g., melanoma, multiple myeloma, breast, prostate, ovarian, and colon cancers), thus contributing to malignant transformation and progression. This makes STAT3 an attractive therapeutic target for cancers. Initial strategies aimed at inhibiting STAT3 functions have focused on blocking the action of its activating kinases or sequestering its DNA binding ability. More recently, the diffusion of proteomic-based techniques, which have allowed for the identification and characterization of novel STAT3-interacting proteins able to modulate STAT3 activity via its subcellular localization, interact with upstream kinases, and recruit transcriptional machinery, has raised the possibility to target such cofactors to specifically restrain STAT3 oncogenic functions. In this article, we summarize the available data about the function of STAT3 interactors in malignant cells and discuss their role as potential therapeutic targets for cancer treatment.