BackgroundThe genetics involved in Ewing sarcoma susceptibility and prognosis are poorly understood. EWS/FLI and related EWS/ETS chimeras upregulate numerous gene targets via promoter-based GGAA-microsatellite response elements. These microsatellites are highly polymorphic in humans, and preliminary evidence suggests EWS/FLI-mediated gene expression is highly dependent on the number of GGAA motifs within the microsatellite.
ObjectivesHere we sought to examine the polymorphic spectrum of a GGAA-microsatellite within the NR0B1 promoter (a critical EWS/FLI target) in primary Ewing sarcoma tumors, and characterize how this polymorphism influences gene expression and clinical outcomes.
ResultsA complex, bimodal pattern of EWS/FLI-mediated gene expression was observed across a wide range of GGAA motifs, with maximal expression observed in constructs containing 20-26 GGAA motifs. Relative to white European and African controls, the NR0B1 GGAA-microsatellite in tumor cells demonstrated a strong bias for haplotypes containing 21-25 GGAA motifs suggesting a relationship between microsatellite function and disease susceptibility. This selection bias was not a product of microsatellite instability in tumor samples, nor was there a correlation between NR0B1 GGAA-microsatellite polymorphisms and survival outcomes.
ConclusionsThese data suggest that GGAA-microsatellite polymorphisms observed in human populations modulate EWS/FLI-mediated gene expression and may influence disease susceptibility in Ewing sarcoma.