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Genes Cancer. 2013 Nov;4(11-12):486-500. doi: 10.1177/1947601913506115.

ZEB2 Represses the Epithelial Phenotype and Facilitates Metastasis in Ewing Sarcoma.

Author information

1
Huntsman Cancer Institute, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, UT, USA ; Department of Oncological Sciences, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, UT, USA.
2
Huntsman Cancer Institute, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, UT, USA ; Center for Children's Cancer Research, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, UT, USA.
3
Department of Pathology, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI, USA.
4
Huntsman Cancer Institute, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, UT, USA ; Department of Oncological Sciences, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, UT, USA ; Department of Biology, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, UT, USA.
5
Huntsman Cancer Institute, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, UT, USA ; Department of Oncological Sciences, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, UT, USA ; Center for Children's Cancer Research, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, UT, USA ; Division of Pediatric Hematology/Oncology, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, UT, USA.

Abstract

The vast majority of cancer-related deaths are attributable to metastasis. Effective treatment of metastatic disease will be improved by a better understanding of the molecular mechanisms contributing to this phenomenon. Much of the work in this field has focused on metastasis of carcinomas, tumors of epithelial origin, while metastasis of sarcomas, tumors of mesenchymal origin, remains poorly understood. Experimental evidence from studies in carcinomas, coupled with clinical observations, highlights the importance of both epithelial and mesenchymal characteristics in these cancer cells that make them competent for metastasis. We set out to test if similar cellular plasticity contributes to sarcoma metastasis. We found that the transcription factor, ZEB2, repressed epithelial gene expression in Ewing sarcoma cells, and this, in turn, repressed the epithelial phenotype. When ZEB2 was experimentally reduced in these cells, epithelial characteristics including decreased migratory ability and cytoskeleton rearrangements were observed. Furthermore, ZEB2 reduction in Ewing sarcoma cells resulted in a decreased metastatic potential using a mouse metastasis model. Our data show that Ewing sarcoma cells may have more epithelial plasticity than previously appreciated. This coupled with previous data demonstrating Ewing sarcoma cells also have mesenchymal features primes these cells to successfully metastasize. This is clinically relevant for 2 important reasons. First, this may offer a therapeutic opportunity to induce characteristics of one cell type or the other depending on the stage of the disease. Second, and more broadly, this raises questions about the cell of origin in Ewing sarcoma and may inform future animal models of the disease.

KEYWORDS:

EMT; EWS/FLI; Ewing sarcoma; ZEB2; metastasis

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