The Janus kinase-signal transducer and activator of transcription (JAK-STAT) pathway transmits information received from extracellular polypeptide signals, through transmembrane receptors, directly to target gene promoters in the nucleus, providing a mechanism for transcriptional regulation without second messengers. Evolutionarily conserved in eukaryotic organisms from slime molds to humans, JAK-STAT signaling appears to be an early adaptation to facilitate intercellular communication that has co-evolved with myriad cellular signaling events. This co-evolution has given rise to highly adapted, ligand-specific signaling pathways that control gene expression. In addition, the JAK-STAT signaling pathways are regulated by a vast array of intrinsic and environmental stimuli, which can add plasticity to the response of a cell or tissue.
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