STAT1 is phosphorylated and downregulated by the oncogenic tyrosine kinase NPM-ALK in ALK-positive anaplastic large-cell lymphoma.

PMID 25921060


The tumorigenicity of most cases of ALK-positive anaplastic large-cell lymphoma (ALK+ ALCL) is driven by the oncogenic fusion protein NPM-ALK in a STAT3-dependent manner. Because it has been shown that STAT3 can be inhibited by STAT1 in some experimental models, we hypothesized that the STAT1 signaling pathway is defective in ALK+ ALCL, thereby leaving the STAT3 signaling unchecked. Compared with normal T cells, ALK+ ALCL tumors consistently expressed a low level of STAT1. Inhibition of the ubiquitin-proteasome pathway appreciably increased STAT1 expression in ALK+ ALCL cells. Furthermore, we found evidence that NPM-ALK binds to and phosphorylates STAT1, thereby promoting its proteasomal degradation in a STAT3-dependent manner. If restored, STAT1 is functionally intact in ALK+ ALCL cells, because it effectively upregulated interferon-γ, induced apoptosis/cell-cycle arrest, potentiated the inhibitory effects of doxorubicin, and suppressed tumor growth in vivo. STAT1 interfered with the STAT3 signaling by decreasing STAT3 transcriptional activity/DNA binding and its homodimerization. The importance of the STAT1/STAT3 functional interaction was further highlighted by the observation that short interfering RNA knockdown of STAT1 significantly decreased apoptosis induced by STAT3 inhibition. Thus, STAT1 is a tumor suppressor in ALK+ ALCL. Phosphorylation and downregulation of STAT1 by NPM-ALK represent other mechanisms by which this oncogenic tyrosine kinase promotes tumorigenesis.