ERG is a megakaryocytic oncogene

Cancer Res. 2009 Jun 1;69(11):4665-73. doi: 10.1158/0008-5472.CAN-09-0075.


Ets-related gene (ERG) is a member of the ETS transcription factor gene family located on Hsa21. ERG is known to have a crucial role in establishing definitive hematopoiesis and is required for normal megakaryopoiesis. Truncated forms of ERG are associated with multiple cancers such as Ewing's sarcoma, prostate cancer, and leukemia as part of oncogenic fusion translocations. Increased expression of ERG is highly indicative of poor prognosis in acute myeloid leukemia and ERG is expressed in acute megakaryoblastic leukemia (AMKL); however, it is unclear if expression of ERG per se has a leukemogenic activity. We show that ectopic expression of ERG in fetal hematopoietic progenitors promotes megakaryopoiesis and that ERG alone acts as a potent oncogene in vivo leading to rapid onset of leukemia in mice. We observe that the endogenous ERG is required for the proliferation and maintenance of AMKL cell lines. ERG also strongly cooperates with the GATA1s mutated protein, found in Down syndrome AMKL, to immortalize megakaryocyte progenitors, suggesting that the additional copy of ERG in trisomy 21 may have a role in Down syndrome AMKL. These data suggest that ERG is a hematopoietic oncogene that may play a direct role in myeloid leukemia pathogenesis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Differentiation / genetics
  • Cell Proliferation
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Embryo, Mammalian
  • Hematopoietic Stem Cells / drug effects
  • Hematopoietic Stem Cells / metabolism
  • Hematopoietic Stem Cells / physiology
  • Humans
  • Interleukin-3 / pharmacology
  • Leukemia, Megakaryoblastic, Acute / genetics*
  • Megakaryocytes / drug effects
  • Megakaryocytes / metabolism
  • Megakaryocytes / physiology*
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Mice, Transgenic
  • Oncogenes / physiology*
  • Thrombopoiesis / drug effects
  • Thrombopoiesis / genetics*
  • Trans-Activators / genetics
  • Trans-Activators / metabolism
  • Trans-Activators / physiology*
  • Transcriptional Regulator ERG


  • ERG protein, human
  • Interleukin-3
  • Trans-Activators
  • Transcriptional Regulator ERG