The main purpose of the present study is to envisage the molecular mechanism of inhibitory action ofdehydrocostuslactone (DCE) andcostunolide (CS), two naturally occurring sesquiterpene lactones, towards the activation of signal transducer and activator of transcription 3 (STAT3). We report that, in human THP-1 cell line, they inhibit IL-6-elicited tyrosine phosphorylation of STAT3 and its DNA binding activity with EC50 of 10 μM with concomitantdown-regulation ofthe phosphorylation of the tyrosine Janus kinases JAK1, JAK2 and Tyk2. Furthermore, these compounds that contain an α-β-unsatured carbonyl moiety and function as potent Michael reaction acceptor, induce a rapid drop in intracellular glutathione (GSH) concentration by direct interaction with it, thereby triggering S-glutathionylation of STAT3. Dehydrocostunolide (HCS), the reduced form of CS lacking only the α-β-unsaturated carbonyl group, fails to exert any inhibitory action. Finally, the glutathione ethylene ester (GEE), the cell permeable GSH form, reverts the inhibitory action of DCE and CS on STAT3 tyrosine phosphorylation. We conclude that these two sesquiterpene lactones are able to induce redox-dependent post-translational modification of cysteine residues of STAT3 protein in order to regulate its function. © 2011 Butturini et al.
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