The Journal of biological chemistry

Mitochondrial-targeted Signal transducer and activator of transcription 3 (STAT3) protects against ischemia-induced changes in the electron transport chain and the generation of reactive oxygen species.

PMID 21715323


Expression of the STAT3 transcription factor in the heart is cardioprotective and decreases the levels of reactive oxygen species. Recent studies indicate that a pool of STAT3 resides in the mitochondria where it is necessary for the maximal activity of complexes I and II of the electron transport chain. However, it has not been explored whether mitochondrial STAT3 modulates cardiac function under conditions of stress. Transgenic mice with cardiomyocyte-specific overexpression of mitochondria-targeted STAT3 with a mutation in the DNA-binding domain (MLS-STAT3E) were generated. We evaluated the role of mitochondrial STAT3 in the preservation of mitochondrial function during ischemia. Under conditions of ischemia heart mitochondria expressing MLS-STAT3E exhibited modest decreases in basal activities of complexes I and II of the electron transport chain. In contrast to WT hearts, complex I-dependent respiratory rates were protected against ischemic damage in MLS-STAT3E hearts. MLS-STAT3E prevented the release of cytochrome c into the cytosol during ischemia. In contrast to WT mitochondria, ischemia did not augment reactive oxygen species production in MLS-STAT3E mitochondria likely due to an MLS-STAT3E-mediated partial blockade of electron transport through complex I. Given the caveat of STAT3 overexpression, these results suggest a novel protective mechanism mediated by mitochondrial STAT3 that is independent of its canonical activity as a nuclear transcription factor.

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