Molecular mechanisms of ETS transcription factor-mediated tumorigenesis

Crit Rev Biochem Mol Biol. Nov-Dec 2013;48(6):522-43. doi: 10.3109/10409238.2013.838202. Epub 2013 Sep 25.


The E26 transformation-specific (ETS) family of transcription factors is critical for development, differentiation, proliferation and also has a role in apoptosis and tissue remodeling. Changes in expression of ETS proteins therefore have a significant impact on normal physiology of the cell. Transcriptional consequences of ETS protein deregulation by overexpression, gene fusion, and modulation by RAS/MAPK signaling are linked to alterations in normal cell functions, and lead to unlimited increased proliferation, sustained angiogenesis, invasion and metastasis. Existing data show that ETS proteins control pathways in epithelial cells as well as stromal compartments, and the crosstalk between the two is essential for normal development and cancer. In this review, we have focused on ETS factors with a known contribution in cancer development. Instead of focusing on a prototype, we address cancer associated ETS proteins and have highlighted the diverse mechanisms by which they affect carcinogenesis. Finally, we discuss strategies for ETS factor targeting as a potential means for cancer therapeutics.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Apoptosis
  • Cell Differentiation
  • Cell Proliferation
  • Cell Transformation, Neoplastic / metabolism*
  • DNA-Binding Proteins / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Neoplasms / genetics
  • Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Neoplasms / pathology
  • Neovascularization, Pathologic
  • Protein Binding
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-ets / genetics
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-ets / metabolism*
  • Signal Transduction / genetics


  • DNA-Binding Proteins
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-ets