Antiproliferative effect of SOCS-1 through the suppression of STAT3 and p38 MAPK activation in gastric cancer cells



Inflammation is a crucial driving force in the development of gastric cancers (GCs). Accordingly, persistent activation of STAT3, a transcription factor pivotal in regulating both inflammation and oncogenesis, is often detected in GC, although its mechanism remains elusive. Suppressor of cytokine signaling-1 (SOCS-1) is a negative regulator of proinflammatory cytokine signaling and SOCS-1 gene methylation is frequently detected in various cancers including GC. However, the significance of SOCS-1 methylation in GC cells remains unexplored. Our study is undertaken to evaluate the role of SOCS-1 in GC cell proliferation and its effect on signaling pathways in GC cells. Among five GC cell lines, SOCS-1 gene was methylated in all cell lines and constitutive STAT3 phosphorylation with elevated endogenous IL-6 production was detected in two cell lines (NUGC-3 and AGS). Unexpectedly, anti-IL-6R antibody inhibited neither cell proliferation nor STAT3 phosphorylation in NUGC-3 and AGS. In contrast, enforced SOCS-1 expression by adenoviral vector (AdSOCS-1) markedly suppressed STAT3 phosphorylation and proliferation of NUGC-3 and AGS cells in vitro. Interestingly, the antiproliferative effect of SOCS-1 was attributable not only to the inhibition of STAT3 but also to that of p38 MAPK activity, and chemical inhibitors of JAK/STAT and p38 MAPK signaling effectively suppressed proliferation of these GC cells. Furthermore, treatment with AdSOCS-1 in vivo significantly suppressed GC proliferation in a xenograft model. These results suggest that SOCS-1 gene methylation is a critical step in the development of GC, and enforced expression of SOCS-1 may represent a novel therapeutic approach for the treatment of GC.