The Wilms tumor protein WT1 stimulates transcription of the gene encoding insulin-like growth factor binding protein 5 (IGFBP5)

Gene. 2017 Jul 1;619:21-29. doi: 10.1016/j.gene.2017.03.037. Epub 2017 Mar 30.


Insulin-like growth factor (IGF) binding proteins (IGFBPs) constitute a family of six secreted proteins that regulate the signaling of insulin-like growth factors (IGFs). IGFBP5 is the most conserved family member in vertebrates and the major IGF binding protein in bone. IGFBP5 is required for normal development of the musculoskeletal system, and various types of cancer frequently express high levels of IGFP5. Here we identify the gene encoding IGFBP5 as a novel downstream target of the Wilms tumor protein WT1. IGFBP5 and WT1 are expressed in an overlapping pattern in the condensing metanephric mesenchyme of embryonic murine kidneys. Down-regulation of WT1 by transfection with antisense vivo-morpholino significantly decreased Igfbp5 transcripts in murine embryonic kidney explants. Likewise, silencing of Wt1 in a mouse mesonephros-derived cell line reduced Igfbp5 mRNA levels by approximately 80%. Conversely, induction of the WT1(-KTS) isoform, whose role as transcriptional regulator has been firmly established, significantly increased IGFBP5 mRNA and protein levels in osteosarcoma cells. IGFBP5 expression was not significantly changed by WT1(+KTS) protein, which exhibits lower DNA binding affinity than the WT1(-KTS) isoform and has a presumed role in post-transcriptional gene regulation. Luciferase reporter constructs harboring 0.8 and 1.6 kilobases of the murine Igfbp5 promoter, respectively, were stimulated approximately 5-fold by co-transfection of WT1(-KTS). The WT1(+KTS) variant had no significant effect on IGFBP5 promoter activity. Binding of WT1(-KTS), but not of WT1(+KTS) protein, to the IGFBP5 promoter in human osteosarcoma cells was proven by chromatin immunoprecipitation (ChIP) and confirmed by electrophoretic mobility shift assay. These findings demonstrate that WT1 activates transcription of the IGFBP5 gene with possible implications for kidney development and bone (patho)physiology.

Keywords: Bone formation; Kidney development; Kidney organ culture; Osteosarcoma; Promoter regulation; RNA interference.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Carrier Proteins / genetics*
  • Carrier Proteins / metabolism
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Developmental
  • Humans
  • Kidney / embryology
  • Kidney / metabolism
  • Mice
  • Promoter Regions, Genetic
  • Protein Binding
  • Repressor Proteins / genetics
  • Repressor Proteins / metabolism*
  • Transcriptional Activation*
  • WT1 Proteins


  • Carrier Proteins
  • IGFBP5-interacting protein, mouse
  • Repressor Proteins
  • WT1 Proteins
  • WT1 protein, mouse