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Cancer Res. 1994 Jun 1;54(11):2837-40.

Fusion of the EWS and WT1 genes in the desmoplastic small round cell tumor.

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  • 1Department of Pathology, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, New York, New York 10021.


The desmoplastic small round cell tumor (DSRCT) is a recently recognized type of primitive sarcoma defined by a predilection for young males, aggressive clinical behavior, widespread abdominal serosal involvement, and a primitive histological appearance with prominent desmoplasia and striking divergent, multilineage differentiation. Previous cytogenetic case reports have identified a recurrent translocation, t(11;22) (p13;q12). We have characterized this translocation at the molecular level in a panel of five DSRCTs using a candidate gene approach. Southern blot analysis revealed recurrent rearrangement of both EWS, located at 22q12, and rearranged in other tumor-specific translocations in Ewing's sarcoma and clear cell sarcoma, and of WT1, the gene at 11p13 involved in a subset of Wilms' tumor. Consistent comigration of the rearranged EWS and WT1 bands in multiple enzyme digests indicated fusion of the genomic sequences, presumably due to the translocation t(11;22) (p13;q12). Northern blotting showed aberrant EWS and WT1 transcripts of the same size, suggesting the presence of a chimeric messenger RNA. This was confirmed by reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction using an EWS exon 7 primer and WT1 exon 8 or 9 primers, which revealed single polymerase chain reaction products consistent with a junction of EWS exon 7 to WT1 exon 8. DSRCT thus represents the third primitive sarcoma in which the EWS gene is involved and the first instance of recurrent rearrangement of a tumor suppressor gene, WT1, in a specific tumor type. The different translocation partners of the EWS gene, all of which are putative or definite transcription factor genes, may be responsible for the biological differences between DSRCT, Ewing's sarcoma, and clear cell sarcoma.

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