Inhibition of interleukin-3- and interferon- α-induced JAK/STAT signaling by the synthetic α-X-2′,3,4,4′-tetramethoxychalcones α-Br-TMC and α-CF3-TMC

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The JAK/STAT pathway is an essential mediator of cytokine signaling, often upregulated in human diseases and therefore recognized as a relevant therapeutic target. We previously identified the synthetic chalcone α-bromo-2′,3,4,4′-tetramethoxychalcone (α-Br-TMC) as a novel JAK2/STAT5 inhibitor. We also found that treatment with α-Br-TMC resulted in a downward shift of STAT5 proteins in SDS-PAGE, suggesting a post-translational modification that might affect STAT5 function. In the present study, we show that a single cysteine within STAT5 is responsible for the α-Br-TMC-induced protein shift, and that this modification does not alter STAT5 transcriptional activity. We also compared the inhibitory activity of α-Br-TMC to that of another synthetic chalcone, α-trifluoromethyl-2′,3,4,4′-tetramethoxychalcone (α-CF3-TMC). We found that, like α-Br-TMC, α-CF3-TMC inhibits JAK2 and STAT5 phosphorylation in response to interleukin-3, however without altering STAT5 mobility in SDS-PAGE. Moreover, we demonstrate that both α-Br-TMC and α-CF3-TMC inhibit interferon-α-induced activation of STAT1 and STAT2, by inhibiting their phosphorylation and the expression of downstream interferon-stimulated genes. Together with the previous finding that α-Br-TMC and α-CF3-TMC inhibit the response to inflammation by inducing Nrf2 and blocking NF-κB activities, our data suggest that synthetic chalcones might be useful as anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer and immunomodulatory agents in the treatment of human diseases.

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