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Biochem Biophys Res Commun. 2002 Apr 26;293(1):61-71.

Lack of matrix metalloproteinase (MMP)-1 and -3 expression in Ewing sarcoma may be due to loss of accessibility of the MMP regulatory element to the specific fusion protein in vivo.

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  • 1Department of Pathology, Keio University School of Medicine, 35 Shinanomachi, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo 160-8582, Japan.


Ewing sarcoma is a malignant bone and soft tissue tumor of children and young adults, which is known to be highly aggressive and invasive. It expresses specific chimeric genes (EWS-FLI-1, EWS-ERG, EWS-ETV1, and EWS-E1AF), the 3' portions of which are all members of the ETS family. ETS-related proteins, such as FLI-1, ERG, and E1AF, transactivate the promoters of matrix metalloproteinase (MMP) genes, which play important roles in the processes of invasion and metastasis. Therefore, we hypothesize that the Ewing sarcoma-specific chimeric genes also transactivate the MMP genes, contributing to the tumor's invasiveness and propensity for metastasis. To verify this hypothesis, we investigated the expression of MMPs in eight Ewing sarcoma cell lines. Surprisingly, MMP-1 and MMP-3 were not expressed at all in any of the cell lines. MMP-9 was expressed in four out of the eight cell lines, and MMP-2 and MT1-MMP in all of the cell lines. Ewing sarcoma-specific chimeric genes have been shown to transactivate the promoter of the MMP-1 gene by the reporter assay, and bind to the putative recognition sites in the MMP regulatory elements by the gel shift assay. However, an in vivo formaldehyde cross-linking study revealed that the chimeric protein did not bind to the predicted ETS recognition sites in the regulatory elements of the MMPs. These results indicate that the absence of the MMP expression in the tumor cells is at least in part due to the loss of accessibility of the ETS recognition sites in the regulatory elements of the MMP genes. Therefore, we should be careful before theorizing simply that a putative binding site is essential for the transcription of critical genes, since the binding of this fusion protein was found to be modulated in tumor cells in this study.

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