Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is the sixth most common cancer worldwide and the third
leading cause of cancer-related death. Because of the fast growth, early hepatic metastasis and the
multidrug resistance, the five-year survival rate is very low. Thus, the understanding of its biology can
significantly contribute in identifying valuable targets for novel therapeutic approaches. In this regard,
E2F1 may represent an interesting candidate. E2F1 is a transcription factor implicated in the regulation
of many cellular processes including cell proliferation and apoptosis. Whereas the involvement of E2F1
in HCC has been recognized, its ability to act as a proliferative and/or apoptotic factor in HCC has not
yet been clarified and, in this regard, an active debate is ongoing. The definition of E2F1 role in HCC is
not a trivial aspect as it can have significant consequences for the development of novel therapeutic options
with E2F1 as target. In this review, we present data about the reported proliferative/apoptotic effects
as well as the dual (combined proliferation and apoptosis) functions of E2F1 in HCC discussing
the molecular basis for this behavior. The data available so far indicate that the proliferative and apoptotic
functions of E2F1 in HCC may coexist but the proliferative effect seems to be more pronounced
than the apoptotic one.
Keywords: Apoptosis, E2F1, HCC, miRNA, proliferation, p53.
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