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Oncogene. 2000 Dec 18;19(55):6417-31.

The Ets-transcription factor family in embryonic development: lessons from the amphibian and bird.

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  • 1FRE 2168 du CNRS, IPCB, 21 rue RenĂ© Descartes, 67084 Strasbourg cedex, France.


This chapter reviews the expression and role of Ets-genes during embryogenesis of amphibians and birds. In addition to overlapping expression domains, some of them exhibit cell type-specific expression. Many of them are expressed in migratory cells: neural crest, endothelial, and pronephric duct cells for instance. They are also transcribed in embryonic areas affected by epithelio-mesenchymal transitions. Both processes involve modifications of cellular adhesion. Ets-family genes appear to coordinate changes in the expression of adhesion molecules and degradation of the extracellular matrix upon regulation of matrix metalloproteinases and their specific inhibitors. These functions are essential for physiological processes like tissue remodelling during embryogenesis or wound healing. Unfortunately they also play a harmful role in metastasis. Recent studies in the nervous system showed that Ets-genes contribute to the establishment of a cellular identity. This identity could rely on definite cell-surface determinants, among which cadherins could play an important role. In addition to cell-type specific expression, other factors contribute to the specificity of function of Ets-genes. These genes have a broad specificity of recognition of target sequences in gene promoters, insufficient for accurate control of gene expression. A fine tuning could arise from combinatorial interactions with other Ets- or accessory proteins.

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