Molecular pathways: targeting ETS gene fusions in cancer.

Rearrangements, or gene fusions, involving the ETS family of transcription factors are common driving events in both prostate cancer and Ewing sarcoma. These rearrangements result in pathogenic expression of the ETS genes and trigger activation of transcriptional programs enriched for invasion and other oncogenic features. Although ETS gene fusions represent intriguing therapeutic targets, transcription factors, such as those comprising the ETS family, have been notoriously difficult to target. Recently, preclinical studies have demonstrated an association between ETS gene fusions and components of the DNA damage response pathway, such as PARP1, the catalytic subunit of DNA protein kinase (DNAPK), and histone deactylase 1 (HDAC1), and have suggested that ETS fusions may confer sensitivity to inhibitors of these DNA repair proteins. In this review, we discuss the role of ETS fusions in cancer, the preclinical rationale for targeting ETS fusions with inhibitors of PARP1, DNAPK, and HDAC1, as well as ongoing clinical trials targeting ETS gene fusions.


Clin. Cancer Res., 2014, 20 (17)

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