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Int J Biochem Cell Biol. 2001 Apr;33(4):391-407.

The Ets family contains transcriptional activators and repressors involved in angiogenesis.

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Institut de Biologie de Lille, 1, rue du Professeur Calmette, BP 447, 59021, Lille Cedex, France.


The Ets family contains a growing number of transcriptional activators and inhibitors, which activity is regulated by phosphorylation and protein-protein interactions. Among these factors, Ets1, Erg1 and Fli1 are expressed in endothelial cells during angiogenesis in normal and pathological development. The expression of these transcription factors is regulated by angiogenic factors in cultured endothelial cells, as well as by various stresses occurring during angiogenesis. Transfection experiments and transgenic mice analysis revealed that Ets family members are involved in the transcriptional regulation of endothelial specific genes such as those encoding Tie1 and -2, VEGFR1 and -2 and VE-Cadherin. In vitro studies plead for a role of Ets family members in endothelial cell adhesion, spreading and motility. Gene inactivation experiments show that Ets1 is dispensable for embryonic development. The phenotype of knocked-out embryos indicates that Tel is required for maintenance of the developing vascular network in the yolk sac. Altogether, we suggest that Ets family members act both positively and negatively during the different steps of the angiogenic process. The regulation of the initiation of gene transcription arises from the combined activity of different transcriptional regulators. Therefore very few transcription factors are specific for a physiological process, or a given cell type. The transcriptional network that regulates blood vessel formation involves transcription factors which are expressed in a variety of situations. The Lung Kruppel Like Factor (LKLF) which is required for blood vessel stabilisation during murine development is also expressed in the primitive vertebrae and in the lung of the adult (C.T. Kuo, M.L. Veselits, K.P. Barton, M.M. Lu, C. Clendenin, J.M. Leiden, The LKLF transcription factor is required for normal tunica media formation and blood vessel stabilisation during murine embryogenesis, Genes Dev. 11 (22) (1997) 2996-3006). Scl/Tal1 which is essential for angiogenic remodelling of the yolk sac capillary network (J.E. Visvader, Y. Fujiwara, S.H. Orkin, Unsuspected role for the T-cell leukemia protein SCL/tal-1 in vascular development, Genes Dev. 12 (4) (1998) 473-479), is involved in blood cell development and is also expressed in the developing brain. The EPAS transcription factor which was thought to be endothelial cell specific in the mouse embryo (H. Tian, S.L. McKnight, D.W. Russell, Endothelial PAS domain protein 1 (EPAS1), a transcription factor selectively expressed in endothelial cells, Genes Dev. 11 (1) (1997) 72-82) is also expressed in the liver, kidney and cells of the sympathetic nervous system of the chick embryo (J. Favier, H. Kempf, P. Corvol, J.M. Gasc, Cloning and expression pattern of EPAS1 in the chicken embryo. Colocalization with tyrosine hydroxylase, FEBS Lett. 462 (1-2) (1999) 19-24). Ets1, which expression was originally detected in lymphoid cells of adult tissues, has been the first transcription factor to be identified in endothelial cells during angiogenesis in the embryo (B. Vandenbunder, L. Pardanaud, T. Jaffredo, M.A. Mirabel, D. Stehelin, Complementary patterns of expression of c-etsl, c-myb and c-myc in the blood-forming system of the chick embryo, Development 107 (1989) 265-274 [5]) and in tumours (N. Wernert, M.B. Raes, P. Lassalle, M.P. Dehouck, B. Gosselin, B. Vandenbunder, D. Stehelin, The c-ets 1 proto-oncogene is a transcription factor expressed in endothelial cells during tumor vascularisation and other forms of angiogenesis in man, Am. J. Path. 140 (1992) 119-127 [6]). Since then, the Ets family has extended and this review will emphasise the relationships between these factors and angiogenesis.

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