The ETS transcription factor ETV5 is a target of activated ALK in neuroblastoma contributing to increased tumour aggressiveness

Sci Rep. 2020 Jan 14;10(1):218. doi: 10.1038/s41598-019-57076-5.


Neuroblastoma is an aggressive childhood cancer arising from sympatho-adrenergic neuronal progenitors. The low survival rates for high-risk disease point to an urgent need for novel targeted therapeutic approaches. Detailed molecular characterization of the neuroblastoma genomic landscape indicates that ALK-activating mutations are present in 10% of primary tumours. Together with other mutations causing RAS/MAPK pathway activation, ALK mutations are also enriched in relapsed cases and ALK activation was shown to accelerate MYCN-driven tumour formation through hitherto unknown ALK-driven target genes. To gain further insight into how ALK contributes to neuroblastoma aggressiveness, we searched for known oncogenes in our previously reported ALK-driven gene signature. We identified ETV5, a bona fide oncogene in prostate cancer, as robustly upregulated in neuroblastoma cells harbouring ALK mutations, and show high ETV5 levels downstream of the RAS/MAPK axis. Increased ETV5 expression significantly impacted migration, invasion and colony formation in vitro, and ETV5 knockdown reduced proliferation in a murine xenograft model. We also established a gene signature associated with ETV5 knockdown that correlates with poor patient survival. Taken together, our data highlight ETV5 as an intrinsic component of oncogenic ALK-driven signalling through the MAPK axis and propose that ETV5 upregulation in neuroblastoma may contribute to tumour aggressiveness.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Anaplastic Lymphoma Kinase / genetics
  • Anaplastic Lymphoma Kinase / metabolism*
  • Animals
  • Apoptosis
  • Biomarkers, Tumor / genetics
  • Biomarkers, Tumor / metabolism*
  • Cell Proliferation*
  • DNA-Binding Proteins / genetics
  • DNA-Binding Proteins / metabolism*
  • Female
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Neoplastic*
  • Humans
  • Mice
  • Mice, Nude
  • Neuroblastoma / genetics
  • Neuroblastoma / metabolism
  • Neuroblastoma / pathology*
  • Transcription Factors / genetics
  • Transcription Factors / metabolism*
  • Tumor Cells, Cultured
  • Xenograft Model Antitumor Assays


  • Biomarkers, Tumor
  • DNA-Binding Proteins
  • ETV5 protein, human
  • Transcription Factors
  • ALK protein, human
  • Anaplastic Lymphoma Kinase