Expression of the Ets-1 proto-oncogene correlates with malignant potential in human astrocytic tumors

Gaspar Kitange, Masao Kishikawa, Toshiyuki Nakayama, Shinji Naito, Masachika Iseki, Shoubu Shibata

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The protein encoded by the Ets-1 proto-oncogene is a transcription factor that regulates expression of matrix proteases. It has been associated with tumor invasion and angiogenesis. Glioma progression is characterized by increased invasiveness and neovascularization, so we hypothesized that expression of Ets-1 proto-oncogene might play a role in the progression of these tumors. Therefore, we examined the expression of Ets-1 protein by immunohistochemical means and in situ hybridization in tissues obtained from 81 primary and 20 recurrent astrocytic tumors. Twenty-eight (65%) of 43 glioblastomas (Grade IV astrocytomas) stained for Ets-1. The percentage of positive cells in glioblastomas varied from 10 to 90%. Of the 16 anaplastic astrocytomas (Grade III), 4 (25%) were moderately positive (<50% of cells) for Ets-1. None of 22 cases of low-grade astrocytomas (Grade II) expressed endogenous Ets- 1. The staining score was significantly associated with tumor grade (P < .0001). Normal brain tissues did not express Ets-1 protein, whereas recurrent astrocytoma cases expressed significantly more positivity for Ets-1 than did primary tumors (P = .03). The Ets-1 protein was observed mainly in the nucleus and corresponded to the cytoplasmic Ets-1 mRNA localization by in situ hybridization. Western and Northern blot analyses confirmed overexpression of Ets-1 protein and mRNA in high-grade tumors. We conclude that Ets-1 protein expression correlates with the malignant potential of tumors of astroglial origin.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)618-626
Number of pages9
JournalModern Pathology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 1999
Externally publishedYes


  • Astrocytic tumors
  • Ets-1 proto-oncogene
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Malignant potential


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