Variable expression of PIK3R3 and PTEN in Ewing Sarcoma impacts oncogenic phenotypes

PLoS One. 2015 Jan 20;10(1):e0116895. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0116895. eCollection 2015.


Ewing Sarcoma is an aggressive malignancy of bone and soft tissue affecting children and young adults. Ewing Sarcoma is driven by EWS/Ets fusion oncoproteins, which cause widespread alterations in gene expression in the cell. Dysregulation of receptor tyrosine kinase signaling, particularly involving IGF-1R, also plays an important role in Ewing Sarcoma pathogenesis. However, the basis of this dysregulation, including the relative contribution of EWS/Ets-dependent and independent mechanisms, is not well understood. In the present study, we identify variable expression of two modifiers of PI3K signaling activity, PIK3R3 and PTEN, in Ewing Sarcoma, and examine the consequences of this on PI3K pathway regulation and oncogenic phenotypes. Our findings indicate that PIK3R3 plays a growth-promotional role in Ewing Sarcoma, but suggest that this role is not strictly dependent on regulation of PI3K pathway activity. We further show that expression of PTEN, a well-established, potent tumor suppressor, is lost in a subset of Ewing Sarcomas, and that this loss strongly correlates with high baseline PI3K pathway activity in cell lines. In support of functional importance of PTEN loss in Ewing Sarcoma, we show that re-introduction of PTEN into two different PTEN-negative Ewing Sarcoma cell lines results in downregulation of PI3K pathway activity, and sensitization to the IGF-1R small molecule inhibitor OSI-906. Our findings also suggest that PTEN levels may contribute to sensitivity of Ewing Sarcoma cells to the microtubule inhibitor vincristine, a relevant chemotherapeutic agent in this cancer. Our studies thus identify PIK3R3 and PTEN as modifiers of oncogenic phenotypes in Ewing Sarcoma, with potential clinical implications.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Neoplastic*
  • Humans
  • PTEN Phosphohydrolase / genetics*
  • PTEN Phosphohydrolase / metabolism
  • Phosphatidylinositol 3-Kinases / genetics*
  • Phosphatidylinositol 3-Kinases / metabolism
  • Proto-Oncogene Protein c-fli-1 / genetics
  • Proto-Oncogene Protein c-fli-1 / metabolism
  • Sarcoma, Ewing / genetics
  • Sarcoma, Ewing / metabolism*
  • Sarcoma, Ewing / pathology*


  • Proto-Oncogene Protein c-fli-1
  • Phosphatidylinositol 3-Kinases
  • PIK3R3 protein, human
  • PTEN Phosphohydrolase
  • PTEN protein, human