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Genes Cancer. 2013 May;4(5-6):213-23. doi: 10.1177/1947601913489569.

EWS and RE1-Silencing Transcription Factor Inhibit Neuronal Phenotype Development and Oncogenic Transformation in Ewing Sarcoma.

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Department of Oncological Sciences, University of Utah School of Medicine, Salt Lake City, UT, USA.


The gene encoding EWS (EWSR1) is involved in various chromosomal translocations that cause the production of oncoproteins responsible for multiple cancers including Ewing sarcoma, myxoid liposarcoma, soft tissue clear cell sarcoma, and desmoplastic small round cell sarcoma. It is well known that EWS fuses to FLI to create EWS/FLI, which is the abnormal transcription factor that drives tumor development in Ewing sarcoma. However, the role of wild-type EWS in Ewing sarcoma pathogenesis remains unclear. In the current study, we identified EWS-regulated genes and cellular processes through RNA interference combined with RNA sequencing and functional annotation analyses. Interestingly, we found that EWS and EWS/FLI co-regulate a significant cluster of genes, indicating an interplay between the 2 proteins in regulating cellular functions. We found that among the EWS-down-regulated genes are a subset of neuronal genes that contain binding sites for the RE1-silencing transcription factor (REST or neuron-restrictive silencer factor [NRSF]), neuron-restrictive silencer element (NRSE), suggesting a cooperative interaction between REST and EWS in gene regulation. Co-immunoprecipitation analysis demonstrated that EWS interacts directly with REST. Genome-wide binding analysis showed that EWS binds chromatin at or near NRSE. Furthermore, functional studies revealed that both EWS and REST inhibit neuronal phenotype development and oncogenic transformation in Ewing sarcoma cells. Our data implicate an important role of EWS in the development of Ewing sarcoma phenotype and highlight a potential value in modulating EWS function in the treatment of Ewing sarcoma and other EWS translocation-based cancers.


EWS; Ewing sarcoma; REST; neuronal phenotype; oncogenic transformation

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