The p42 variant of ETS1 protein rescues defective Fas-induced apoptosis in colon carcinoma cells

Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1999 Mar 30;96(7):3876-81. doi: 10.1073/pnas.96.7.3876.


ETS1 is a cellular homologue of the product of the viral ets oncogene of the E26 virus, and it functions as a tissue-specific transcription factor. It plays an important role in cell proliferation, differentiation, lymphoid cell development, transformation, angiogenesis, and apoptosis. ETS1 controls the expression of critical genes involved in these processes by binding to ets binding sites present in the transcriptional regulatory regions. The ETS1 gene generates two proteins, p51 and a spliced variant, p42, lacking exon VII. In this paper we show that p42-ETS1 expression bypasses the damaged Fas-induced apoptotic pathway in DLD1 colon carcinoma cells by up-regulating interleukin 1beta-converting enzyme (ICE)/caspase-1 and causes these cancer cells to become susceptible to the effects of the normal apoptosis activation system. ICE/caspase-1 is a redundant system in many cells and tissues, and here we demonstrate that it is important in activating apoptosis in cells where the normal apoptosis pathway is blocked. Blocking ICE/caspase-1 activity by using specific inhibitors of this protease prevents the p42-ETS1-induced apoptosis from occurring, indicating that the induced ICE/caspase-1 enzyme is responsible for killing the cancer cells. p42-ETS1 activates a critical alternative apoptosis pathway in cancer cells that are resistant to normal immune attack, and thus it may be useful as an anticancer therapeutic.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Apoptosis / immunology*
  • Caspase 1 / metabolism
  • Cell Cycle / physiology*
  • Cell Survival
  • Colonic Neoplasms
  • Exons
  • Genetic Variation
  • Humans
  • Models, Biological
  • Protein-Tyrosine Kinases / metabolism
  • Proto-Oncogene Protein c-ets-1
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins / genetics*
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins / metabolism*
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-ets
  • Recombinant Proteins / metabolism
  • Reverse Transcriptase Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Sequence Deletion
  • Signal Transduction
  • Transcription Factors / genetics*
  • Transcription Factors / metabolism*
  • Transfection
  • Tumor Cells, Cultured
  • fas Receptor / physiology*


  • ETS1 protein, human
  • Proto-Oncogene Protein c-ets-1
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-ets
  • Recombinant Proteins
  • Transcription Factors
  • fas Receptor
  • Protein-Tyrosine Kinases
  • Caspase 1