Reactivation of TWIST1 contributes to Ewing sarcoma metastasis

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Abstract

Background

Ewing sarcoma is a cancer of bone and soft tissue. Despite aggressive treatment, survival remains poor, particularly in patients with metastatic disease. Failure to treat Ewing sarcoma is due to the lack of understanding of the molecular pathways that regulate metastasis. In addition, no molecular prognostic markers have been identified for Ewing sarcoma to risk stratify patients.

Procedure

Ewing sarcoma patients were divided into high or low Twist1 gene expression and survival curves were generated using the R2 microarray-based Genomic Analysis platform (http://r2.amc.nl). Tumors from Ewing sarcoma patients were also evaluated for TWIST1 expression by immunohistochemistry. Ewing sarcoma xenografts were established to evaluate the role of TWIST1 in metastasis. The effects of Twist1 on migration and invasion were evaluated using migration and invasion assays in A673 and RDES cells.

Results

Twist1 expression was a negative prognostic marker for overall survival in a public Ewing sarcoma patient data set based on Twist1 mRNA levels and in patient tumor samples based on Twist1 immunohistochemistry. TWIST1 is detected in significantly higher percentage of patients with metastatic diseases than localized disease. Using Ewing sarcoma tumor xenografts in mice, we found that suppressing TWIST1 levels suppressed metastasis without affecting primary tumor development. Knockdown of Twist1 inhibited the migration and invasion capability, while overexpression of Twist1 promoted migration and invasion in Ewing sarcoma cells.

Conclusion

These results suggest that TWIST1 promotes metastasis in Ewing sarcoma and could be used as a prognostic marker for treatment stratification; however, further validation is required in a larger cohort of patients.

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