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Mol Cell Biol. 2008 Apr;28(7):2125-37. doi: 10.1128/MCB.00740-07. Epub 2008 Jan 22.

Inducible expression of chimeric EWS/ETS proteins confers Ewing's family tumor-like phenotypes to human mesenchymal progenitor cells.

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Department of Developmental Biology, National Research Institute for Child Health and Development, 2-10-1, Okura, Setagaya-ku, Tokyo 157-8535, Japan.

Erratum in

  • Mol Cell Biol. 2008 Jun;28(11):3882.


Ewing's family tumor (EFT) is a rare pediatric tumor of unclear origin that occurs in bone and soft tissue. Specific chromosomal translocations found in EFT cause EWS to fuse to a subset of ets transcription factor genes (ETS), generating chimeric EWS/ETS proteins. These proteins are believed to play a crucial role in the onset and progression of EFT. However, the mechanisms responsible for the EWS/ETS-mediated onset remain unclear. Here we report the establishment of a tetracycline-controlled EWS/ETS-inducible system in human bone marrow-derived mesenchymal progenitor cells (MPCs). Ectopic expression of both EWS/FLI1 and EWS/ERG proteins resulted in a dramatic change of morphology, i.e., from a mesenchymal spindle shape to a small round-to-polygonal cell, one of the characteristics of EFT. EWS/ETS also induced immunophenotypic changes in MPCs, including the disappearance of the mesenchyme-positive markers CD10 and CD13 and the up-regulation of the EFT-positive markers CD54, CD99, CD117, and CD271. Furthermore, a prominent shift from the gene expression profile of MPCs to that of EFT was observed in the presence of EWS/ETS. Together with the observation that EWS/ETS enhances the ability of cells to invade Matrigel, these results suggest that EWS/ETS proteins contribute to alterations of cellular features and confer an EFT-like phenotype to human MPCs.

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