Helicobacter pylori VacA reduces the cellular expression of STAT3 and pro-survival Bcl-2 family proteins, Bcl-2 and Bcl-X L, leading to apoptosis in gastric epithelial cells

Ayako Matsumoto, Hajime Isomoto, Masaaki Nakayama, Junzo Hisatsune, Yoshito Nishi, Yujiro Nakashima, Kayoko Matsushima, Hisao Kurazono, Kazuhiko Nakao, Toshiya Hirayama, Shigeru Kohno

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Background: Helicobacter pylori vacuolating cytotoxin, VacA, stimulates apoptosis via a mitochondria-dependent pathway. VacA induces apoptosis via activation of the pro-apoptotic B-cell lymphoma (Bcl)-2 family proteins, Bcl-2-associated X protein (Bax) and Bcl-2 homologous antagonist/killer (Bak), while the implication of such pro-survival Bcl-2 family members as Bcl-2 and Bcl-X L in the VacA-induced apoptosis remains unknown. Signal transduction and activator of transcription 3 (STAT3) is a pivotal transcription factor that upregulates Bcl-2 and Bcl-X L. Aims: This study was conducted to elicit the implication of STAT3 and pro-survival Bcl-2 and Bcl-X L in the intrinsic apoptosis. Methods: Immunoblot and reverse transcriptase real-time polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) were employed to assess the cellular expression of STAT3, Bcl-2, and Bcl-X L in response to purified VacA in gastric adenocarcinoma cell lines. VacA-induced apoptosis was quantitated morphologically following knockdown by each specific small interfering RNA (siRNA) or in the presence of pharmacological inhibitors. Results: VacA reduced STAT3, Bcl-2, and Bcl-X L expression in a dose-dependent manner. Knockdown of STAT3, Bcl-2, and Bcl-X L by siRNA induced apoptosis to a similar extent in the case of sufficient VacA inoculation. The VacA-mediated reduction of STAT3 expression was independent of cellular vacuolization, since a vacuolar-type ATPase inhibitor, bafilomycin A1, did not inhibit VacA-induced reduction of STAT3, Bcl-2, and Bcl-X L expression. Instead, a c-JUN NH 2-terminal kinase (JNK) inhibitor, SP600125, restored the VacA-induced reduction of STAT3 expression to the basal level. Conclusions: VacA-induced apoptosis may be, in part, implicated in the reduction of STAT3 linking to the downregulation of Bcl-2 and Bcl-X L, in association with JNK activity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)999-1006
Number of pages8
JournalDigestive Diseases and Sciences
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2011
Externally publishedYes



  • Apoptosis
  • B-cell lymphoma (Bcl)-2 and Bcl-X
  • c-JUN NH -terminal kinase, JNK
  • Signal transduction and activator of transcription 3, STAT3
  • Vacuolating cytotoxin, VacA

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Gastroenterology
  • Physiology

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