Differential effects of STAT proteins on growth hormone-mediated IGF-I gene expression

Ben Varco-Merth, Peter Rotwein

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


Growth hormone (GH) plays a key role regulating somatic growth and in controlling metabolism and other physiological processes in humans and other animal species. GH acts by binding to the extracellular part of its transmembrane receptor, leading to induction of multiple intracellular signal transduction pathways that culminate in changes in gene and protein expression. A key agent in GH-stimulated growth is the latent transcription factor signal transducer and activator of transcription (STAT) 5B, one of four STAT proteins induced by the GH receptor in cultured cells and in vivo. As shown by genetic and biochemical studies, GH-activated STAT5B promotes transcription of the gene encoding the critical growth peptide, insulin-like growth factor-I (IGF-I), and natural null mutations of STAT5B in humans lead to growth failure accompanied by diminished IGF-I expression. Here we have examined the possibility that other GH-activated STATs can enhance IGF-I gene transcription, and thus potentially contribute to GH-regulated somatic growth. We find that human STAT5A is nearly identical to STAT5B in its biochemical and functional responses to GH but that STAT1 and STAT3 show a weaker profile of in vitro binding to STAT DNA elements from the IGF-I gene than STAT5B, and are less potent inducers of gene transcription through these elements. Taken together, our results offer a molecular explanation for why STAT5B is a key in vivo mediator of GH-activated IGF-I gene transcription and thus of GH-regulated somatic growth.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)E847-E855
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Endocrinology and Metabolism
Issue number9
StatePublished - Nov 1 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • Gene transcription
  • Insulin-like growth factor-I
  • Signal transducer and activator of transcription
  • Signal transduction

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Physiology
  • Physiology (medical)


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