Sp1 and krüppel-like factor family of transcription factors in cell growth regulation and cancer

J Cell Physiol. 2001 Aug;188(2):143-60. doi: 10.1002/jcp.1111.


The Sp/KLF family contains at least twenty identified members which include Sp1-4 and numerous krüppel-like factors. Members of the family bind with varying affinities to sequences designated as 'Sp1 sites' (e.g., GC-boxes, CACCC-boxes, and basic transcription elements). Family members have different transcriptional properties and can modulate each other's activity by a variety of mechanisms. Since cells can express multiple family members, Sp/KLF factors are likely to make up a transcriptional network through which gene expression can be fine-tuned. 'Sp1 site'-dependent transcription can be growth-regulated, and the activity, expression, and/or post-translational modification of multiple family members is altered with cell growth. Furthermore, Sp/KLF factors are involved in many growth-related signal transduction pathways and their overexpression can have positive or negative effects on proliferation. In addition to growth control, Sp/KLF factors have been implicated in apoptosis and angiogenesis; thus, the family is involved in several aspects of tumorigenesis. Consistent with a role in cancer, Sp/KLF factors interact with oncogenes and tumor suppressors, they can be oncogenic themselves, and altered expression of family members has been detected in tumors. Effects of changes in Sp/KLF factors are context-dependent and can appear contradictory. Since these factors act within a network, this diversity of effects may arise from differences in the expression profile of family members in various cells. Thus, it is likely that the properties of the overall network of Sp/KLF factors play a determining role in regulation of cell growth and tumor progression.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Division / physiology
  • DNA-Binding Proteins / genetics
  • DNA-Binding Proteins / metabolism*
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Neoplastic / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Kruppel-Like Transcription Factors
  • Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Neoplasms / physiopathology*
  • Repressor Proteins*
  • Sp1 Transcription Factor / genetics
  • Sp1 Transcription Factor / metabolism*
  • Transcription Factors / genetics
  • Transcription Factors / metabolism*


  • DNA-Binding Proteins
  • Kruppel-Like Transcription Factors
  • Repressor Proteins
  • Sp1 Transcription Factor
  • Transcription Factors