SSX and the synovial-sarcoma-specific chimaeric protein SYT-SSX co-localize with the human Polycomb group complex

Oncogene. 1999 Apr 29;18(17):2739-46. doi: 10.1038/sj.onc.1202613.


Chromosome translocation t(X;18)(p11.2;q11.2) is unique to synovial sarcomas and results in an 'in frame' fusion of the SYT gene with the SSX1 or closely-related SSX2 gene. Wild-type SYT and SSX proteins, and the SYT-SSX chimaeric proteins, can modulate transcription in gene reporter assays. To help elucidate the role of these proteins in cell function and neoplasia we have performed immunolabelling experiments to determine their subcellular localization in three cell types. Transient expression of epitope-tagged proteins produced distinctive nuclear staining patterns. The punctate staining of SYT and SYT-SSX proteins showed some similarities. We immunolabelled a series of endogenous nuclear antigens and excluded the SYT and SYT-SSX focal staining from association with these domains (e.g. sites of active transcription, snRNPs). In further experiments we immunolabelled the Polycomb group (PcG) proteins RING1 or BMI-1 and showed that SSX and SYT-SSX proteins, but not SYT, co-localized with these markers. Consistent with this we show that SSX and SYT-SSX associate with chromatin, and also associate with condensed chromatin at metaphase. Noteably, SSX produced a dense signal over the surface of metaphase chromosomes whereas SYT-SSX produced discrete focal staining. Our data indicate that SSX and SYT-SSX proteins are recruited to nuclear domains occupied by PcG complexes, and this provides us with a new insight into the possible function of wild-type SSX and the mechanism by which the aberrant SYT-SSX protein might disrupt fundamental mechanisms controlling cell division and cell fate.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • COS Cells
  • DNA-Binding Proteins / analysis
  • Humans
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Neoplasm Proteins / analysis*
  • Nuclear Proteins / analysis
  • Polycomb Repressive Complex 1
  • Proteins / analysis*
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins / analysis
  • Recombinant Fusion Proteins / analysis*
  • Repressor Proteins / analysis*
  • Sarcoma, Synovial / chemistry*
  • Tumor Cells, Cultured


  • BMI1 protein, human
  • DNA-Binding Proteins
  • Neoplasm Proteins
  • Nuclear Proteins
  • Proteins
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins
  • Recombinant Fusion Proteins
  • Repressor Proteins
  • SS18 protein, human
  • synovial sarcoma X breakpoint proteins
  • Polycomb Repressive Complex 1
  • RING1 protein, human