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Cancer Res. 2005 Oct 1;65(19):8698-705.

Expression of the EWS/FLI-1 oncogene in murine primary bone-derived cells Results in EWS/FLI-1-dependent, ewing sarcoma-like tumors.

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  • 1Hamon Center for Therapeutic Oncology Research, Department of Pathology, Division of Hematology/Oncology, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, Dallas, Texas, USA.


Ewing sarcoma is the second most common malignant pediatric bone tumor. Over 80% of Ewing sarcoma contain the oncogene EWS/FLI-1, which encodes the EWS/FLI-1 oncoprotein, a hybrid transcription factor comprised of NH2-terminal sequences from the RNA-binding protein EWS and the DNA-binding and COOH-terminal regions of the Ets transcription factor FLI-1. Although numerous genes are dysregulated by EWS/FLI-1, advances in Ewing sarcoma cancer biology have been hindered by the lack of an animal model because of EWS/FLI-1-mediated cytotoxicity. In this study, we have developed conditions for the isolation and propagation of murine primary bone-derived cells (mPBDC) that stably express EWS/FLI-1. Early-passage EWS/FLI-1 mPBDCs were immortalized in culture but inefficient at tumor induction, whereas later-passage cells formed sarcomatous tumors in immunocompetent syngeneic mice. Murine EWS/FLI-1 tumors contained morphologically primitive cells that lacked definitive lineage markers. Molecular characterization of murine EWS/FLI-1 tumors revealed that some but not all had acquired a novel, clonal in-frame p53 mutation associated with a constitutive loss of p21 expression. Despite indications that secondary events facilitated EWS/FLI-1 mPBDC tumorigenesis, cells remained highly dependent on EWS/FLI-1 for efficient transformation in clonogenic assays. This Ewing sarcoma animal model will be a useful tool for dissecting the molecular pathogenesis of Ewing sarcoma and provides rationale for the broader use of organ-specific progenitor cell populations for the study of human sarcoma.

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