The IGF-I receptor gene promoter is a molecular target for the Ewing's sarcoma-Wilms' tumor 1 fusion protein

Eddy Karnieli, Haim Werner, Frank J. Rauscher, Laura E. Benjamin, Derek Leroith

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Desmoplastic small round cell tumor (DSRCT) is an abdominal malignancy in children which is characterized by a recurrent chromosomal translocation, t(11; 22)(p13;q12). This rearrangement results in the fusion of the ubiquitously expressed EWS1 gene to the Wilms' tumor suppressor (WT1) gene. The chimeric protein contains the N-terminal domain of EWS1 fused to the DNA-binding domain of WT1, including zinc fingers 2-4. Because WT1 has been shown previously to bind and repress the insulin-like growth factor I (IGF- I-R) promoter, we investigated whether this promoter is, in addition, a target for the aberrant EWS/WT1 transcription factor. EWS/WT1 activated the IGF-I-R promoter ~340%, whereas a fusion protein containing a three-amine acid insert (KTS) between zinc fingers 3 and 4 had no effect. On the other hand, expression vectors encoding either WTI or EWS1 reduced the activity of the promoter to 46 and 58% of control values, respectively. Results of gel shift assays indicate that the binding affinity of EWS/WT1 to a fragment of the 5'-flanking region of the receptor promoter was higher than the affinity of WT1 itself. Consistent with the results of functional assays, the binding of EWS/WT1(+KTS) was significantly reduced. Due to the central role of the IGF-I-R in tumorigenesis, activation of the receptor promoter by EWS/WT1 may constitute a potential mechanism for the etiology and/or progression of DSRCT.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)19304-19309
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Biological Chemistry
Issue number32
StatePublished - 1996
Externally publishedYes


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