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Cancer Res. 2003 Dec 1;63(23):8338-44.

EWS/ETS fusions activate telomerase in Ewing's tumors.

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  • 1Department of Oral Pathobiological Science, Hokkaido University Graduate School of Dental Medicine, Sapporo, Japan.


EWS/ETS is a chimeric protein identified in most Ewing's sarcomas. Although EWS/ETS has been shown to activate transcription as a transcription factor, the detailed targets of EWS/ETS in transformed cells have not been clarified. Herein, we demonstrate that telomerase is a new target of EWS/ETS fusions. Both telomerase activity and the expression level of telomerase reverse transcriptase (TERT) mRNA were up-regulated in NIH3T3 cells transformed by EWS/E1AF and EWS/FLI1 as well as in two Ewing's sarcoma cell lines. Luciferase assay using the TERT promoter revealed that EWS/E1AF and EWS/FLI1 function as positive regulators of TERT transcription in an ETS binding site-independent manner. EWS/ETS appeared to be included in the initiation complex of TERT transcription and to cooperate with CREB-binding protein (CBP)/p300. When EWS/FLI1 was knocked down in Ewing's sarcomas cells by RNA interference, the expression level of TERT mRNA and the telomerase activity were significantly decreased. These findings indicate that EWS/ETS fusion proteins activate human telomerase activity in Ewing's tumors through up-regulation of TERT gene expression, probably as a transcriptional coactivator.

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