The Ets family consists of a large number of evolutionarily conserved transcription factors, many of which have been implicated in tumor progression. Extensive studies on this family of proteins have focused so far mainly on the biochemical properties and cellular functions of individual factors. Since most of the Ets factors can bind to the core consensus DNA sequence GGAA/T in vitro, it has been a challenge to differentiate redundant from specific functions of various Ets proteins in vivo. Recent findings, however, suggest that such apparent redundancy may in fact be a central component of a network of differentially regulated specific Ets factors, resulting in distinct biological and pathological consequences. The programmed "Ets conversion" appears to play a critical role during tumor progression, especially in control of cellular changes during epithelial-mesenchymal transition and metastasis. Coordination of multiple Ets gene functions also mediates interactions between tumor and stromal cells. As such, these new insights may provide a novel view of the Ets gene family as well as a focal point for studying the complex biological control involved in tumor progression.
Copyright 2004 Wiley-Liss, Inc.