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J Med Invest. 1999 Aug;46(3-4):130-40.

The role of Wilms' tumor genes.

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Division of Transfusion Medicine, University of Tokushima School of Medicine, Japan.


The constitutional chromosomal deletion within the short arm of one copy of chromosome 11, at band p13, which often correlated with WAGR syndrome consisting of Wilms' tumor with aniridia, genitourinary malformation, and mental retardation, provided the first clue to the genetic events in the development of Wilms' tumor. WT1 gene is encoded by 10 exons, resulting in messenger RNA subject to a complex pattern of alternative splicing. WT1 gene encodes a zinc finger transcription factor, which binds to GC-rich sequences and functions as a transcriptional activator or repressor for many growth factor genes. WT 1 protein is mainly expressed in developing kidney, testis, and ovary, indicating that it is involved in the differentiation of genitourinary tissues, all thought to be the sites of origin of Wilms' tumor. The point mutation of WT1 results in Denys-Drash syndrome. The other Wilms' tumor gene, WT2 at 11p15.5, is linked to Beckwith-Wiedemann syndrome. The possibility that WT1 is involved in the etiology of rhabdoid tumor of the kidney was discussed. WT1 is expressed in immortalized hematologic cells such as EBV-LCL and hematologic malignancies, but not in PBL or IL-2L. High level WT1 expression in leukemia cells and a poor prognosis are linked in patients with leukemia, making the gene a novel marker for leukemia cells. A correlated expression between WT1 and mdr-1 in vincristine resistant cells indicates a close relation with multi-drug resistance and is a promising diagnostic marker for chemoresistance in hematologic malignancies.

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