Stable interference of EWS-FLI1 in an Ewing sarcoma cell line impairs IGF-1/IGF-1R signalling and reveals TOPK as a new target

Br J Cancer. 2009 Jul 7;101(1):80-90. doi: 10.1038/sj.bjc.6605104. Epub 2009 Jun 2.


Background: Ewing sarcoma is a paradigm of solid tumour -bearing chromosomal translocations resulting in fusion proteins that act as deregulated transcription factors. Ewing sarcoma translocations fuse the EWS gene with an ETS transcription factor, mainly FLI1. Most of the EWS-FLI1 target genes still remain unknown and many have been identified in heterologous model systems.

Methods: We have developed a stable RNA interference model knocking down EWS-FLI1 in the Ewing sarcoma cell line TC71. Gene expression analyses were performed to study the effect of RNA interference on the genetic signature of EWS-FLI1 and to identify genes that could contribute to tumourigenesis.

Results: EWS-FLI1 inhibition induced apoptosis, reduced cell migratory and tumourigenic capacities, and caused reduction in tumour growth. IGF-1 was downregulated and the IGF-1/IGF-1R signalling pathway was impaired. PBK/TOPK (T-LAK cell-originated protein kinase) expression was decreased because of EWS-FLI1 inhibition. We showed that TOPK is a new target gene of EWS-FLI1. TOPK inhibition prompted a decrease in the proliferation rate and a dramatic change in the cell's ability to grow in coalescence.

Conclusion: This is the first report of TOPK activity in Ewing sarcoma and suggests a significant role of this MAPKK-like protein kinase in the Ewing sarcoma biology.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Apoptosis / physiology
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Cell Movement / physiology
  • Down-Regulation
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Insulin-Like Growth Factor I / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Insulin-Like Growth Factor I / biosynthesis
  • Insulin-Like Growth Factor I / genetics
  • Insulin-Like Growth Factor I / metabolism*
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred NOD
  • Mice, SCID
  • Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinase Kinases
  • Oncogene Proteins, Fusion / antagonists & inhibitors*
  • Oncogene Proteins, Fusion / genetics
  • Oncogene Proteins, Fusion / metabolism
  • Protein-Serine-Threonine Kinases / biosynthesis*
  • Protein-Serine-Threonine Kinases / genetics
  • Protein-Serine-Threonine Kinases / metabolism
  • Proto-Oncogene Protein c-fli-1
  • RNA Interference
  • RNA-Binding Protein EWS
  • Receptor, IGF Type 1 / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Receptor, IGF Type 1 / biosynthesis
  • Receptor, IGF Type 1 / genetics
  • Receptor, IGF Type 1 / metabolism*
  • Sarcoma, Ewing / enzymology
  • Sarcoma, Ewing / genetics
  • Sarcoma, Ewing / metabolism*
  • Sarcoma, Ewing / pathology
  • Signal Transduction
  • Transcription Factors / antagonists & inhibitors*
  • Transcription Factors / genetics
  • Transcription Factors / metabolism


  • EWS-FLI fusion protein
  • Oncogene Proteins, Fusion
  • Proto-Oncogene Protein c-fli-1
  • RNA-Binding Protein EWS
  • Transcription Factors
  • Insulin-Like Growth Factor I
  • Receptor, IGF Type 1
  • Protein-Serine-Threonine Kinases
  • Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinase Kinases
  • PDZ-binding kinase