Inhibition of Eyes Absent Homolog 4 expression induces malignant peripheral nerve sheath tumor necrosis

Oncogene. 2010 Jan 21;29(3):368-79. doi: 10.1038/onc.2009.360. Epub 2009 Nov 9.


Malignant peripheral nerve sheath tumors (MPNSTs) are aggressive sarcomas without effective therapeutics. Bioinformatics was used to identify potential therapeutic targets. Paired Box (PAX), Eyes Absent (EYA), Dachsund (DACH) and Sine Oculis (SIX) genes, which form a regulatory interactive network in Drosophila, were found to be dysregulated in human MPNST cell lines and solid tumors. We identified a decrease in DACH1 expression, and increases in the expressions of PAX6, EYA1, EYA2, EYA4, and SIX1-4 genes. Consistent with the observation that half of MPNSTs develop in neurofibromatosis type 1 (NF1) patients, subsequent to NF1 mutation, we found that exogenous expression of the NF1-GTPase activating protein-related domain normalized DACH1 expression. EYA4 mRNA was elevated more than 100-fold as estimated by quantitative real-time PCR in most MPNST cell lines. In vitro, suppression of EYA4 expression using short hairpin RNA reduced cell adhesion and migration and caused cellular necrosis without affecting cell proliferation or apoptotic cell death. MPNST cells expressing shEYA4 either failed to form tumors in nude mice or formed very small tumors, with extensive necrosis but similar levels of proliferation and apoptosis as control cells. Our findings identify a role of EYA4 and possibly interacting SIX and DACH proteins in MPNSTs and suggest the EYA4 pathway as a rational therapeutic target.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Blotting, Western
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Cluster Analysis
  • Eye Proteins / genetics
  • Eye Proteins / metabolism
  • Female
  • Gene Expression Profiling
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Neoplastic
  • Homeodomain Proteins / genetics
  • Homeodomain Proteins / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Intracellular Signaling Peptides and Proteins / genetics
  • Intracellular Signaling Peptides and Proteins / metabolism
  • Mice
  • Mice, Nude
  • Necrosis
  • Neoplasms, Experimental / genetics*
  • Neoplasms, Experimental / metabolism
  • Neoplasms, Experimental / pathology
  • Nerve Sheath Neoplasms / genetics*
  • Nerve Sheath Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Nerve Sheath Neoplasms / pathology
  • Nuclear Proteins / genetics
  • Nuclear Proteins / metabolism
  • Oligonucleotide Array Sequence Analysis / methods
  • PAX6 Transcription Factor
  • Paired Box Transcription Factors / genetics
  • Paired Box Transcription Factors / metabolism
  • Protein Tyrosine Phosphatases / genetics
  • Protein Tyrosine Phosphatases / metabolism
  • RNA Interference*
  • Repressor Proteins / genetics
  • Repressor Proteins / metabolism
  • Reverse Transcriptase Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Trans-Activators / genetics*
  • Trans-Activators / metabolism
  • Transcription Factors / genetics
  • Transcription Factors / metabolism
  • Transplantation, Heterologous


  • DACH1 protein, human
  • EYA4 protein, human
  • Eye Proteins
  • Homeodomain Proteins
  • Intracellular Signaling Peptides and Proteins
  • Nuclear Proteins
  • PAX6 Transcription Factor
  • PAX6 protein, human
  • Paired Box Transcription Factors
  • Pax6 protein, mouse
  • Repressor Proteins
  • SIX1 protein, human
  • Trans-Activators
  • Transcription Factors
  • EYA1 protein, human
  • EYA2 protein, human
  • Protein Tyrosine Phosphatases