Identification of a natural product-like STAT3 dimerization inhibitor by structure-based virtual screening

L. J. Liu, K. H. Leung, D. S.H. Chan, Y. T. Wang, Edmond Dik Lung MA*, C. H. Leung

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

93 Citations (Scopus)


STAT3 regulates a variety of genes involved with cell proliferation, differentiation, apoptosis, angiogenesis, metastasis, inflammation, and immunity. The purpose of this study was to apply molecular docking techniques to identify STAT3 inhibitors from a database of over 90 000 natural product and natural product-like compounds. The virtual screening campaign furnished 14 hit compounds, from which compound 1 emerged as a top candidate. Compound 1 inhibited STAT3 DNA-binding activity in vitro and attenuated STAT3-directed transcription in cellulo with selectivity over STAT1 and with comparable potency to the well-known STAT3 inhibitor S3I-201. Furthermore, compound 1 inhibited STAT3 dimerization and decreased STAT3 phosphorylation in cells without affecting STAT1 dimerization and phosphorylation. Compound 1 also exhibited selective anti-proliferative activity against cancer cells over normal cells in vitro. Molecular docking analysis suggested that compound 1 might putatively function as an inhibitor of STAT3 dimerization by binding to the SH2 domain. This study also validates the use of in silico techniques to identify inhibitors of protein-protein interactions, which are typically considered difficult to target with small molecules.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere1293
JournalCell Death and Disease
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2014

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Immunology
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience
  • Cell Biology
  • Cancer Research


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