In extraskeletal myxoid chondrosarcoma, a chromosomal translocation creates a gene fusion between EWS and an orphan nuclear receptor, NOR1. The resulting fusion protein EWS/NOR1 has been believed to lead to malignant transformation by functioning as a transactivator for NOR1-target genes. By comparing the gene expression profiles of NOR1- and EWS/NOR1-overexpressing cells, we found that they largely shared up-regulated genes, but no significant correlation was observed with respect to the transactivation levels of each gene. In addition, the proteins associated with NOR1 and EWS/NOR1 were mostly the same in these cells. The results suggest that these proteins differentially transactivate overlapping target genes through a similar transcriptional machinery. To clarify the mechanisms underlying the transcriptional divergence between NOR1 and EWS/NOR1, we searched for alternatively associated proteins, and identified poly(ADP-ribose) polymerase I (PARP-1) as an NOR1-specific binding protein. Consistent with its binding properties, PARP-1 acted as a transcriptional repressor of NOR1, but not EWS/NOR1, in a luciferase reporter assay employing PARP-1(-/-) fibroblasts. Interestingly, suppressive activity of PARP-1 was observed in a DNA response element-specific manner, and in a subtype-specific manner toward the NR4A family (Nur77, Nurr1, and NOR1), suggesting that PARP-1 plays a role in the diversity of transcriptional regulation mediated by the NR4A family in normal cells. Altogether, our findings suggest that NOR1 and EWS/NOR1 regulate overlapping target genes differently by utilizing associated proteins, including PARP-1; and that EWS/NOR1 may acquire oncogenic activities by avoiding (or gaining) transcription factor-specific modulation by the associated proteins.
(c) 2008 Wiley-Liss, Inc.