The role of ATF-2 in oncogenesis

Bioessays. 2008 Apr;30(4):314-27. doi: 10.1002/bies.20734.


Activating Transcription Factor-2 is a sequence-specific DNA-binding protein that belongs to the bZIP family of proteins and plays diverse roles in the mammalian cells. In response to stress stimuli, it activates a variety of gene targets including cyclin A, cyclin D and c-jun, which are involved in oncogenesis in various tissue types. ATF-2 expression has been correlated with maintenance of a cancer cell phenotype. However, other studies demonstrate an antiproliferative or apoptotic role for ATF-2. In this review, we summarize the signaling pathways that activate ATF-2, as well as its downstream targets. We examine the role of ATF-2 in carcinogenesis with respect to other bZIP proteins, using data from studies in human cancer cell lines, human tumours and mouse models, and we propose a potential model for its function in carcinogenesis, as well as a theoretical basis for its utility in anticancer drug design.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Activating Transcription Factor 2 / genetics*
  • Activating Transcription Factor 2 / metabolism
  • Activating Transcription Factor 2 / physiology*
  • Animals
  • Apoptosis
  • Cell Adhesion
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Cell Transformation, Neoplastic
  • DNA-Binding Proteins / metabolism
  • Dimerization
  • Humans
  • Mice
  • Models, Biological
  • Models, Genetic
  • Neoplasms / metabolism*
  • Signal Transduction
  • Transcription Factors / metabolism


  • ATF2 protein, human
  • Activating Transcription Factor 2
  • DNA-Binding Proteins
  • Transcription Factors