The PEA3 group of ETS-related transcription factors. Role in breast cancer metastasis

Adv Exp Med Biol. 2000;480:107-16. doi: 10.1007/0-306-46832-8_13.


The ets genes encode eukaryotic transcription factors that are involved in tumorigenesis and developmental processes. The signature of the Ets family is the ETS-domain, which binds to sites containing a central 5'-GGAA/T-3' motif. They can be sub-classified primarily because of the high amino acid conservation in their ETS-domains and, in addition, in the conservation of other domains generally characterized as transactivating. This is the case for the PEA3 group, which is currently made up of three members, PEA3/E1AF, ER81/ETV1 and ERM, which are more than 95% identical in the ETS-domain and more than 85% in the transactivation acidic domain. The members of the PEA3 group are activated through both the Ras-dependent and other kinase pathways, a function which emphasizes their involvement in several oncogenic mechanisms. The expression pattern of the three PEA3 group genes during mouse embryogenesis suggests that they are differentially regulated, probably to serve important functions such as tissue interaction. Although the target genes of these transcription factors are multiple, their most frequently studied role concerns their involvement in the metastatic process. In fact, PEA3 group members are over-expressed in metastatic human breast cancer cells and mouse mammary tumors, a feature which suggests a function of these transcription factors in mammary oncogenesis. Moreover, when they are ectopically over-expressed in non-metastatic breast cancer cells, these latter become metastatic with the activation of transcription of matrix metalloproteinases or adhesion molecules, such as ICAM-1.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Breast Neoplasms / genetics*
  • Breast Neoplasms / pathology
  • Female
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Neoplastic
  • Humans
  • Mammary Neoplasms, Animal / genetics*
  • Mammary Neoplasms, Animal / pathology
  • Mice
  • Neoplasm Invasiveness / genetics
  • Transcription Factors / genetics*


  • Transcription Factors
  • transcription factor PEA3