Numerous molecular abnormalities contribute to the genetic derangements involved in tumorigenesis. Chromosomal translocations are a frequent source of these derangements, producing unique fusion proteins with novel oncogenic properties. EWS/ETS fusions in Ewing sarcoma are a prime example of this, resulting in potent chimeric oncoproteins with novel biological properties and a unique transcriptional signature essential for oncogenesis. Recent evidence demonstrates that EWS/FLI, the most common EWS/ETS fusion in Ewing sarcoma, upregulates gene expression using a GGAA microsatellite response element dispersed throughout the human genome. These GGAA microsatellites function as enhancer elements, are sites of epigenetic regulation and are necessary for EWS/FLI DNA binding and upregulation of principal oncogenic targets. An increasing number of GGAA motifs appear to substantially enhance EWS/FLI-mediated gene expression, which has compelling biological implications as these GGAA microsatellites are highly polymorphic within and between ethnically distinct populations. Historically regarded as junk DNA, this emerging evidence clearly demonstrates that microsatellite DNA plays an instrumental role in EWS/FLI-mediated transcriptional regulation and oncogenesis in Ewing sarcoma. This unprecedented role of GGAA microsatellite DNA in Ewing sarcoma provides a unique opportunity to expand our mechanistic understanding of how EWS/ETS fusions influence cancer susceptibility, prognosis and transcriptional regulation.
- ETS family transcription factors
- Microsatellite DNA
- Microsatellite polymorphisms
- Transcriptional regulation
ASJC Scopus subject areas