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Genes Dev. 2003 Sep 1;17(17):2094-107. Epub 2003 Aug 15.

Identification of a DNA-binding site and transcriptional target for the EWS-WT1(+KTS) oncoprotein.

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Massachusetts General Hospital Cancer Center and Harvard Medical School, Charlestown, MA 02129, USA.


Desmoplastic small round cell tumor (DSRCT) is defined by a chimeric transcription factor, resulting from fusion of the N-terminal domain of the Ewing's sarcoma gene EWS to the three C-terminal zinc fingers of the Wilms' tumor suppressor WT1. Although DNA-binding sites have been defined for the uninterrupted WT1 zinc finger domains, the most prevalent isoforms of both WT1 and EWS-WT1 have an insertion of three amino acids [lysine, threonine, and serine (KTS)], which abrogates binding to known consensus sequences and transactivation of known target genes. Here, we used cDNA subtractive hybridization to identify an endogenous gene, LRRC15, which is specifically up-regulated after inducible expression of EWS-WT1(+KTS) in cancer cell lines, and is expressed within primary DSRCT cells. The chimeric protein binds in vitro and in vivo to a specific element upstream of LRRC15, leading to dramatic transcriptional activation. Mutagenesis studies define the optimal binding site of the (+KTS) isoform of EWS-WT1 as 5'-GGAGG(A/G)-3'. LRRC15 encodes a leucine-rich transmembrane protein, present at the leading edge of migrating cells, the expression of which in normal tissues is restricted to the invasive cytotrophoblast layer of the placenta; small interfering (siRNA)-mediated suppression of LRRC15 expression in breast cancer cells leads to abrogation of invasiveness in vitro. Together, these observations define the consequence of (KTS) insertion within WT1-derived zinc fingers, and identify a novel EWS-WT1 transcriptional target implicated in tumor invasiveness.

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