Suppression of CHK1 by ETS family members promotes DNA damage response bypass and tumorigenesis

Andrea Lunardi, Shohreh Varmeh, Ming Chen, Riccardo Taulli, Jlenia Guarnerio, Ugo Ala, Nina Seitzer, Tomoki Ishikawa, Brett S Carver, Robin M. Hobbs, Valentina Quarantotti, Christopher Ng, Alice H. Berger, Caterina Nardella, Laura Poliseno, Rodolfo Montironi, Mireia Castillo-Martin, Carlos Cordon-Cardo, Sabina Signoretti, Pier Paolo Pandolfi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

14 Citations (Scopus)


The ETS family of transcription factors has been repeatedly implicated in tumorigenesis. In prostate cancer, ETS family members, such as ERG, ETV1, ETV4, and ETV5, are frequently overexpressed due to chromosomal translocations, but the molecular mechanisms by which they promote prostate tumorigenesis remain largely undefined. Here, we show that ETS family members, such as ERG and ETV1, directly repress the expression of the checkpoint kinase 1 (CHK1), a key DNA damage response cell-cycle regulator essential for the maintenance of genome integrity. Critically, we find that ERG expression correlates with CHK1 downregulation in human patients and demonstrate that Chk1 heterozygosity promotes the progression of high-grade prostatic intraepithelial neoplasia into prostatic invasive carcinoma in Pten+/− mice. Importantly, CHK1 downregulation sensitizes prostate tumor cells to etoposide but not to docetaxel treatment. Thus, we identify CHK1 as a key functional target of the ETS proto-oncogenic family with important therapeutic implications. SIGNIFICANCE: Genetic translocation and aberrant expression of ETS family members is a common event in different types of human tumors. Here, we show that through the transcriptional repression of CHK1, ETS factors may favor DNA damage accumulation and consequent genetic instability in proliferating cells. Importantly, our findings provide a rationale for testing DNA replication inhibitor agents in ETS-positive TP53-proficient tumors.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)550-563
Number of pages14
JournalCancer Discovery
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2015
Externally publishedYes

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