Dual effects of active ERK in cancer: A potential target for enhancing radiosensitivity (Review)
- Yinliang Lu
- Baocai Liu
- Ying Liu
- Xinyue Yu
- Guanghui Cheng
Affiliations: Department of Radiation Oncology, China‑Japan Union Hospital of Jilin University, Changchun, Jilin 130033, P.R. China
- Published online on: May 28, 2020 https://doi.org/10.3892/ol.2020.11684
Copyright: © Lu
et al. This is an open access article distributed under the
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Commons Attribution License.
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Ionizing radiation (IR) is an important cancer treatment approach. However, radioresistance eventually occurs, resulting in poor outcomes in patients with cancer. Radioresistance is associated with multiple signaling pathways, particularly pro‑survival signaling pathways. The extracellular signal‑regulated kinase 1/2 (ERK1/2) cascade is an important signaling pathway that initiates several cellular processes and is regulated by various stimuli, including IR. Although numerous studies have demonstrated the pro‑survival effects of active ERK, activation of ERK has also been associated with cell death, indicating that radiosensitization may occur by ERK stimulation. In this context, the present review describes the associations between ERK signaling, cancer and IR, and discusses the association between ERK and its pro‑survival function in cancer cells, including stimuli, molecular mechanisms, clinical use of inhibitors and underlying limitations. Additionally, the present review introduces the view that active ERK may induce cell death, and describes the potential factors associated with this process. This review describes the various outcomes induced by active ERK to prompt future studies to aim to enhance radiosensitivity in the treatment of cancer.