Drug Res Updates. 2010 Aug-Oct;13(4-5):119-31.

Translating DNA damage into cancer cell death-A roadmap for E2F1 apoptotic signalling and opportunities for new drug combinations to overcome chemoresistance.

Engelmann D, Pützer BM.


The cellular transcription factor E2F1 has been identified as a tumor suppressor regulating the activities of p53 and its homologue TAp73, and promoting apoptosis by the activation of a plethora of death pathways. More than 15 years of experimentation recognized E2F1 as the key player in apoptosis induced by DNA damage in all types of human cancer. This occurs by several mechanisms that affect RB-E2F1 interaction, E2F1 stability and its binding to promoters of E2F1-regulated genes. Recent progress has been made in revealing new proapoptotic genes regulated by E2F1 and it seems that many still remain to be discovered. However, whereas in the past one focused mainly on identifying E2F1 target genes translating cellular stress signals into cell death, today the DNA damage-induced regulatory network governing E2F1's ability to induce apoptosis is rapidly gaining attention as well. Notably, the lately uncovered role of pRB and E2F3 in triggering E2F1-dependent apoptosis through chemotherapy gains our understanding of the DNA damage response in normal and tumor cells. In this context a large body of evidence indicates that nuclear cofactors targeting E2F1 seem to have a major impact on its tumor suppressor function. These new findings are discussed in the context of preclinical studies applying E2F1 overexpression in combination with genotoxic anticancer agents - called chemogene therapy, thereby providing new mechanistic links between the E2F1-induced apoptotic programming and advanced cancer phenotype.