Identification of a new STAT3 dimerization inhibitor through a pharmacophore-based virtual screening approach

<p>Signal transducer and activator of transcription 3 (STAT3) plays an essential role in cell growth regulation and survival. An aberrant STAT3 activation and/or expression is implied in various solid and blood tumors as well as in other pathologies like rheumatoid arthritis and pulmonary fibrosis, thus making the search for STAT3 inhibitors a growing field of study. With the aim of identifying new inhibitors of STAT3 dimerization, we screened a database including more than 1 320 000 commercially available compounds using a receptor-based pharmacophore model comprising the key protein–protein interactions identified in the STAT3 dimer and refining the search through docking and molecular dynamic simulations studies. STAT3 binding assays revealed a significant STAT3 inhibitory activity and selectivity versus Grb2 for one of the four top-scored compounds, thus verifying the reliability of the virtual screening workflow. Moreover, such compound could already be considered as a lead for the development of new and more potent STAT3 dimerization inhibitors.</p>