Gene Summary

Gene:ATF1; activating transcription factor 1
Aliases: TREB36, EWS-ATF1, FUS/ATF-1
Summary:This gene encodes an activating transcription factor, which belongs to the ATF subfamily and bZIP (basic-region leucine zipper) family. It influences cellular physiologic processes by regulating the expression of downstream target genes, which are related to growth, survival, and other cellular activities. This protein is phosphorylated at serine 63 in its kinase-inducible domain by serine/threonine kinases, cAMP-dependent protein kinase A, calmodulin-dependent protein kinase I/II, mitogen- and stress-activated protein kinase and cyclin-dependent kinase 3 (cdk-3). Its phosphorylation enhances its transactivation and transcriptional activities, and enhances cell transformation. Fusion of this gene and FUS on chromosome 16 or EWSR1 on chromosome 22 induced by translocation generates chimeric proteins in angiomatoid fibrous histiocytoma and clear cell sarcoma. This gene has a pseudogene on chromosome 6. [provided by RefSeq, Aug 2010]
Databases:OMIM, VEGA, HGNC, Ensembl, GeneCard, Gene
Protein:cyclic AMP-dependent transcription factor ATF-1
Source:NCBIAccessed: 17 March, 2015


What does this gene/protein do?
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Pathways:What pathways are this gene/protein implicaed in?
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Cancer Overview

Research Indicators

Publications Per Year (1990-2015)
Graph generated 17 March 2015 using data from PubMed using criteria.

Literature Analysis

Mouse over the terms for more detail; many indicate links which you can click for dedicated pages about the topic.

Tag cloud generated 17 March, 2015 using data from PubMed, MeSH and CancerIndex

Specific Cancers (8)

Data table showing topics related to specific cancers and associated disorders. Scope includes mutations and abnormal protein expression.

Entity Topic PubMed Papers
-ATF1 and Clear Cell Sarcoma View Publications51
Soft Tissue SarcomaATF1 and Soft Tissue Cancers View Publications28
MelanomaATF1 and Melanoma View Publications22
Skin CancerATF1 and Skin Cancer View Publications10
Lung CancerATF1 and Lung Cancer View Publications10
Bone Cancer (primary)ATF1 and Bone Cancer View Publications9
Salivary Gland CancerATF1 and Salivary Gland Cancer View Publications6
Skin Cancert(12; 22)(q13; q12) Translocation in Clear Cell Sarcoma
The t(12;22)(q13;q12) is characteristic of malignant melanoma of soft parts (clear cell sarcoma). This fuses the ATF1 gene on chromosome 12 with the EWS gene on chromosome 22.

Note: list is not exhaustive. Number of papers are based on searches of PubMed (click on topic title for arbitrary criteria used).

Latest Publications: ATF1 (cancer-related)

Pletneva MA, Andea A, Palanisamy N, et al.
Clear cell melanoma: a cutaneous clear cell malignancy.
Arch Pathol Lab Med. 2014; 138(10):1328-36 [PubMed] Related Publications
Clear cell melanoma is a rare clear cell malignancy. Accurate diagnosis of clear cell melanoma requires integration of immunohistochemical and morphologic findings, with molecular studies to rule out clear cell sarcoma. The differential diagnosis includes melanoma, carcinoma, perivascular epithelioid cell tumor, and epidermotropic clear cell sarcoma. We use a case of a lesion on the helix of an 86-year-old man as an example. Histologic examination revealed an ulcerated clear cell malignant tumor. Tumor cell cytoplasm contained periodic acid-Schiff-positive, diastase-sensitive glycogen. Tumor cells showed positive labeling for S100, HMB-45, and Melan-A, and negative labeling for cytokeratins, p63, and smooth muscle actin. Molecular studies demonstrated BRAF V600E mutation, copy gains at the 6p25 (RREB1) and 11q13 (CCND1) loci, and absence of EWSR1-ATF1 fusion. These findings supported a diagnosis of clear cell melanoma. The rare pure clear cell morphology occurs due to accumulation of intracytoplasmic glycogen. We review the differential diagnosis of clear cell melanoma and describe the utility of immunohistochemical and molecular studies in confirming this diagnosis.

Outani H, Tanaka T, Wakamatsu T, et al.
Establishment of a novel clear cell sarcoma cell line (Hewga-CCS), and investigation of the antitumor effects of pazopanib on Hewga-CCS.
BMC Cancer. 2014; 14:455 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
BACKGROUND: Clear cell sarcoma (CCS) is a therapeutically unresolved, aggressive, soft tissue sarcoma (STS) that predominantly affects young adults. This sarcoma is defined by t(12;22)(q13;q12) translocation, which leads to the fusion of Ewing sarcoma gene (EWS) to activating transcription factor 1 (ATF1) gene, producing a chimeric EWS-ATF1 fusion gene. We established a novel CCS cell line called Hewga-CCS and developed an orthotopic tumor xenograft model to enable comprehensive bench-side investigation for intensive basic and preclinical research in CCS with a paucity of experimental cell lines.
METHODS: Hewga-CCS was derived from skin metastatic lesions of a CCS developed in a 34-year-old female. The karyotype and chimeric transcript were analyzed. Xenografts were established and characterized by morphology and immunohistochemical reactivity. Subsequently, the antitumor effects of pazopanib, a recently approved, novel, multitargeted, tyrosine kinase inhibitor (TKI) used for the treatment of advanced soft tissue sarcoma, on Hewga-CCS were assessed in vitro and in vivo.
RESULTS: Hewga-CCS harbored the type 2 EWS-ATF1 transcript. Xenografts morphologically mimicked the primary tumor and expressed S-100 protein and antigens associated with melanin synthesis (Melan-A, HMB45). Pazopanib suppressed the growth of Hewga-CCS both in vivo and in vitro. A phospho-receptor tyrosine kinase array revealed phosphorylation of c-MET, but not of VEGFR, in Hewga-CCS. Subsequent experiments showed that pazopanib exerted antitumor effects through the inhibition of HGF/c-MET signaling.
CONCLUSIONS: CCS is a rare, devastating disease, and our established CCS cell line and xenograft model may be a useful tool for further in-depth investigation and understanding of the drug-sensitivity mechanism.

Golubkov VS, Strongin AY
Downstream signaling and genome-wide regulatory effects of PTK7 pseudokinase and its proteolytic fragments in cancer cells.
Cell Commun Signal. 2014; 12:15 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
BACKGROUND: The full-length membrane protein tyrosine kinase 7 (PTK7) pseudokinase, an important component of the planar cell polarity and the Wnt canonical and non-canonical pathways, is a subject of step-wise proteolysis in cells and tissues. The proteolysis of PTK7 involves membrane type-matrix metalloproteinase (MT1-MMP), members of the Disintegrin Domain and Metalloproteinase (ADAM) family, and γ-secretase. This multi-step proteolysis results in the generation of the digest fragments of PTK7. These fragments may be either liberated into the extracellular milieu or retained on the plasma membrane or released into the cytoplasm and then transported into the nucleus.
RESULTS: We employed the genome-wide transcriptional and kinome array analyses to determine the role of the full-length membrane PTK7 and its proteolytic fragments in the downstream regulatory mechanisms, with an emphasis on the cell migration-related genes and proteins. Using fibrosarcoma HT1080 cells stably expressing PTK7 and its mutant and truncated species, the structure of which corresponded to the major PTK7 digest fragments, we demonstrated that the full-length membrane 1-1070 PTK7, the N-terminal 1-694 soluble ectodomain fragment, and the C-terminal 622-1070 and 726-1070 fragments differentially regulate multiple genes and signaling pathways in our highly invasive cancer cell model. Immunoblotting of the selected proteins were used to validate the results of our high throughput assays.
CONCLUSIONS: Our results suggest that PTK7 levels need to be tightly controlled to enable migration and that the anti-migratory effect of the full-length membrane PTK7 is linked to the down-regulation of multiple migration-related genes and to the activation of the Akt and c-Jun pathway. In turn, the C-terminal fragments of PTK7 act predominantly via the RAS-ERK and CREB/ATF1 pathway and through the up-regulation of cadherin-11. In general, our data correlate well with the distinct functionality of the full-length receptor tyrosine kinases and their respective intracellular domain (ICD) proteolytic fragments.

Antonescu CR, Dal Cin P
Promiscuous genes involved in recurrent chromosomal translocations in soft tissue tumours.
Pathology. 2014; 46(2):105-12 [PubMed] Related Publications
Soft tissue tumours represent a heterogeneous group of mesenchymal lesions and their classification continues to evolve as a result of incorporating advances in cytogenetic and molecular techniques. In the last decade, traditional diagnostic approaches were supplemented with a significant number of reliable molecular diagnostic tools, detecting tumour type specific genetic alterations. Additionally, the successful application of some of these techniques to formalin fixed, paraffin embedded tissue enabled a broader range of clinical material to be subjected to molecular analysis. However, despite all these remarkable advances, the realisation that some of the genetic abnormalities are not fully histotype specific and that certain gene aberrations can be shared among different sarcoma types, otherwise completely unrelated clinically or immunophenotypically, has introduced some drawbacks in surgical pathology practice. One such common example is the presence of EWSR1 gene rearrangements by fluorescence in situ hybridisation (FISH), a test now preferred over the elaborate RT-PCR testing, in a variety of benign and highly malignant soft tissue tumours, in addition to a subset of carcinomas. Furthermore, the presence of identical gene fusions in completely different sarcoma types (i.e., EWSR1-ATF1, EWSR1-CREB1) or in non-mesenchymal malignancies (epithelial or haematological) has raised skepticism as to their diagnostic utility, and their lack of specificity has been compared to the limitations of other ancillary techniques, in particular immunohistochemistry. This review catalogues the main groups of genes that behave in a promiscuous manner within recurrent fusion events in soft tissue tumours. Although we acknowledge that the present molecular classification of soft tissue tumours is much more complex than two decades ago, when EWSR1 gene rearrangements had been described as the hallmark of Ewing sarcoma, we make the strong argument that with very few exceptions, the prevalence of fusion transcripts in most sarcomas is such that they come to define these entities and can be used as highly specific molecular diagnostic markers in the right clinical and pathological context.

Kraft S, Antonescu CR, Rosenberg AE, et al.
Primary clear cell sarcoma of the tongue.
Arch Pathol Lab Med. 2013; 137(11):1680-3 [PubMed] Related Publications
Clear cell sarcoma shares features with melanoma, but frequently shows EWSR1 rearrangements. It is an aggressive tumor typically occurring in the soft tissues of the extremities, with a gastrointestinal variant with less consistent melanocytic differentiation. It is extremely rare in the head and neck region, with no reported cases in the oral cavity. We report a case of an 82-year-old woman with a clear cell sarcoma arising in the tongue, with cervical lymph node metastases. Histologically, the tumor showed some features of gastrointestinal clear cell sarcoma. No osteoclast-type giant cells were present. The tumor cells were positive for S100 protein and negative for other melanocytic markers. Fluorescence in situ hybridization showed rearrangements of EWSR1 and ATF1. This case expands the spectrum of clear cell sarcoma with a gastrointestinal-like variant in a novel site, emphasizing the need to consider it as a differential diagnosis to melanoma in mucosal sites.

Kao YC, Lan J, Tai HC, et al.
Angiomatoid fibrous histiocytoma: clinicopathological and molecular characterisation with emphasis on variant histomorphology.
J Clin Pathol. 2014; 67(3):210-5 [PubMed] Related Publications
AIMS: Angiomatoid fibrous histiocytoma (AFH) is histologically typified by nodules of histiocytoid spindle cells with pseudoangiomatoid spaces, fibrous pseudocapsules and lymphocytic cuffs. The principal goal was to expand the spectrum of AFHs through clinicopathological and molecular characterisation.
METHODS: Thirteen AFHs, including 11 with confirmed hallmark translocation, were reappraised for classic features, reactive osteoclasts, mitoses and stromal, architectural and cytomorphological variations, with CD99, desmin and EMA stained in available cases.
RESULTS: Seven male and six female patients ranged in age from 4 to 63 years (median, 13), including 4 older than 20 years. Tumours were located on the extremities (n=6), trunk (n=4) and scalp (n=3). Although fibrous pseudocapsules were observed in all cases, four showed solid histology without pseudoangiomatoid spaces and another one lacked peripheral lymphoid infiltrates. Nuclear pleomorphism was striking in two cases, moderate in seven and absent in four, with osteoclasts seen in two cases. In three AFHs with sclerotic matrix, one exhibited perivascular hyalinisation and nuclear palisading, reminiscent of a schwannoma. In three varyingly myxoid tumours, one closely resembled a myoepithelioma with prominent reticular arrangement of spindle cells in an abundant myxoid stroma. Besides EWSR1 gene rearrangement detected in four cases by fluorescence in situ hybridisation (FISH), EWSR1-CREB1 fusion was confirmed in nine cases, including a schwannoma-like AFH, and EWSR1-ATF1 fusion detected in a myoepithelioma-like AFH. Immunohistochemically, 56% of AFHs were positive for EMA, 78% for desmin and 100% for CD99.
CONCLUSIONS: Molecular testing is diagnostic of variant AFHs displaying diverse histomorphological alterations in the architectural patterns, cytomorphology and extracellular matrix.

Tsukamoto Y, Nakata Y, Futani H, et al.
A rare case of clear cell sarcoma with 4 types of EWSR1-ATF1 fusions detected not in primary site but in metastatic site.
Pathol Res Pract. 2013; 209(12):803-7 [PubMed] Related Publications
Clear cell sarcoma is a unique tumor which has EWSR1-ATF1 or EWSR1-CREB1 fusion. Several patterns of EWSR1-ATF1 fusion are observed in clear cell sarcoma. Since type 5-7 fusions were reported recently, they are classified as type 1-7. We examined EWSR1-ATF1 and EWSR1-CREB1 fusions in a single case of clear cell sarcoma with lung metastasis in a 36-year-old Japanese man. As a result, we found only type 1 EWSR1-ATF1 fusion in the primary site, but 4 types of EWS-ATF1 fusion (type 1, 2, 5, 6) were detected in the metastatic site. These 4 types of fusion were completely identical to the recent report, but the case had the same fusion patterns in both primary and metastatic sites. In our case, increased splicing activity in the EWSR1-ATF1 fusion might be acquired at the metastatic site. There is another possibility that metastasis might develop through the increased splicing activity in the fusion.

Bilodeau EA, Weinreb I, Antonescu CR, et al.
Clear cell odontogenic carcinomas show EWSR1 rearrangements: a novel finding and a biological link to salivary clear cell carcinomas.
Am J Surg Pathol. 2013; 37(7):1001-5 [PubMed] Related Publications
Clear cell odontogenic carcinomas (CCOCs) are a rare tumor of the jaws, which have considerable morphologic and immunophenotypic overlap with (hyalinizing) clear cell carcinomas (CCCs) of salivary origin. Fluorescence in situ hybridization for EWSR1 was performed on 12 CCOCs, 14 CCCs, and a control set of other miscellaneous clear cell tumors of the head and neck region. EWSR1 was rearranged in 12/13 (92.3%) CCCs and 5/8 (62.5%) CCOCs. EWSR1 testing failed in 1 CCC and 4 CCOCs. Two cases initially diagnosed as CCOCs that were negative for the EWSR1 translocation, were reclassified as clear cell calcifying epithelial odontogenic tumors. ATF1 involvement was confirmed by fluorescence in situ hybridization analysis in 1 CCOC. In this study, we demonstrate for the first time the EWSR1-ATF1 translocation in a CCOC and demonstrate a concrete link between CCCs and at least a subset of CCOCs.

Panagopoulos I, Thorsen J, Gorunova L, et al.
RNA sequencing identifies fusion of the EWSR1 and YY1 genes in mesothelioma with t(14;22)(q32;q12).
Genes Chromosomes Cancer. 2013; 52(8):733-40 [PubMed] Related Publications
Mesothelioma is a rare but very aggressive tumor derived from mesothelial cells. A number of often complex but nonrandom cytogenetic abnormalities have been found in these tumors, resulting in loss of chromosome bands 14q32 and 22q12 in more than 35% of the cases. In this study, we used RNA sequencing to search for fusion transcripts in a mesothelioma carrying a t(14;22)(q32;q12) as the sole chromosomal aberration and found an EWSR1-YY1 and its reciprocal YY1-EWSR1 fusion transcript. Screening 15 additional cases of mesothelioma from which we had RNA but no cytogenetic information, we identified one more tumor carrying an EWSR1-YY1 fusion gene but not the reciprocal YY1-EWSR1 transcript. RT-polymerase chain reaction and sequencing showed that in both cases exon 8 of EWSR1 (nucleotide 1,139, accession number NM_013986 version 3, former exon 7 in sequence with accession number X66899) was fused to exon 2 of YY1 (nucleotide 1,160, accession number NM_003403 version 3). The EWSR1 breakpoint in exon 8 in the EWSR1-YY1 chimeric transcript is similar to what is found in other fusions involving EWSR1 such as EWSR1-FLI1, EWSR1-DDIT3, and EWSR1-ATF1. The EWSR1-YY1-encoded protein is an abnormal transcription factor with the transactivation domain of EWSR1 and the DNA-binding domain of YY1. This is the first study to detect a specific fusion gene in mesothelioma (the reason how frequent the EWSR1-YY1 fusion is remains uncertain) and also the first time that direct involvement of YY1 in oncogenesis has been demonstrated.

Jo VY, Antonescu CR, Zhang L, et al.
Cutaneous syncytial myoepithelioma: clinicopathologic characterization in a series of 38 cases.
Am J Surg Pathol. 2013; 37(5):710-8 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
Cutaneous myoepithelial tumors demonstrate heterogenous morphologic and immunophenotypic features. We previously described, in brief, 7 cases of cutaneous myoepithelioma showing solid syncytial growth of ovoid, spindled, or histiocytoid cells. We now present the clinicopathologic features in a series of 38 cases of this distinctive syncytial variant, which were diagnosed between 1997 and 2012 (mostly seen in consultation). There were 27 men and 11 women, with a median age of 39 years (range, 2 mo to 74 y). Primary anatomic sites were the upper extremity (11, including 2 on the hand), upper limb girdle (3), lower extremity (14; 3 on the foot), back (6), face (2), chest (1), and buttock (1); the typical presentation was as either a polypoid or papular lesion. Tumors were well circumscribed and centered in the dermis and ranged in size from 0.3 to 2.7 cm (median 0.8 cm). Microscopically all tumors showed a solid sheet-like growth of uniformly sized ovoid to spindled or histiocytoid cells with palely eosinophilic syncytial cytoplasm. Nuclei were vesicular with fine chromatin and small or inconspicuous nucleoli and exhibited minimal to no atypia. Mitoses ranged from 0 to 4 per 10 HPF; 28 tumors showed no mitoses. Necrosis and lymphovascular invasion were consistently absent. Adipocytic metaplasia, appearing as superficial fat entrapped within the tumor, was seen in 12 cases. Chondro-osseous differentiation was seen in 1 tumor. All tumors examined were diffusely positive for EMA, and the majority showed diffuse staining for S-100 protein (5 showing focal staining). Keratin staining was focal in 1 of 33 tumors and seen in rare cells in 3 other cases. There was also positivity for GFAP (14/33), SMA (9/13), and p63 (6/11). Most lesions were treated by local excision. The majority of tumors tested (14/17; 82%) were positive by fluorescence in situ hybridization for EWSR1 gene rearrangement; testing for potential fusion partners (PBX1, ZNF444, POU5F1, DUX4, ATF1, CREB1, NR4A3, DDIT3, and NFATc2) was negative in all EWSR1-rearranged tumors. No FUS gene rearrangement was detected in 2 tumors lacking EWSR1 rearrangement. Follow-up information is available for 21 patients (mean follow-up 15 mo). One patient with a positive deep margin developed a local recurrence 51 months after initial biopsy. All other patients with available follow-up information, including 11 who had positive deep margins, are alive with no evidence of disease and no reported metastases. In summary, cutaneous syncytial myoepithelioma is a morphologically distinct variant that more frequently affects men, occurs over a wide age range, and usually presents on the extremities. Tumors are positive for S-100 protein and EMA, and, unlike most myoepithelial neoplasms, keratin staining is infrequent. EWSR1 gene rearrangement is present in nearly all tumors tested and likely involves a novel fusion partner. Prior reports describe some risk of recurrence and metastasis for cutaneous myoepithelial tumors; however, the syncytial variant appears to behave in a benign manner and only rarely recurs locally.

Straessler KM, Jones KB, Hu H, et al.
Modeling clear cell sarcomagenesis in the mouse: cell of origin differentiation state impacts tumor characteristics.
Cancer Cell. 2013; 23(2):215-27 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
Clear cell sarcoma (CCS) of tendons and aponeuroses is a deadly soft-tissue malignancy resembling melanoma, with a predilection for young adults. EWS-ATF1, the fusion product of a balanced chromosomal translocation between chromosomes 22 and 12, is considered the definitional feature of the tumor. Conditional expression of the EWS-ATF1 human cDNA in the mouse generates CCS-like tumors with 100% penetrance. Tumors, developed through varied means of initiating expression of the fusion oncogene, model human CCS morphologically, immunohistochemically, and by genome-wide expression profiling. We also demonstrate that although fusion oncogene expression in later stages of differentiation can transform mesenchymal progenitor cells and generate tumors resembling CCS generally, expression in cells retaining stem cell markers permits the full melanoma-related phenotype.

Yang CW, Lee YZ, Hsu HY, et al.
c-Jun-mediated anticancer mechanisms of tylophorine.
Carcinogenesis. 2013; 34(6):1304-14 [PubMed] Related Publications
Tylophorine, a phenanthroindolizidine alkaloid, is the major medicinal constituent of herb Tylophora indica. Tylophorine treatment increased the accumulation of c-Jun protein, a component of activator protein 1 (AP1), in carcinoma cells. An in vitro kinase assay revealed that the resultant c-Jun phosphorylation was primarily mediated via activated c-Jun N-terminal protein kinase (JNK). Moreover, flow cytometry indicated that ectopically overexpressed c-Jun in conjunction with tylophorine significantly increased the number of carcinoma cells that were arrested at the G1 phase. The tylophorine-mediated downregulation of cyclin A2 protein levels is known to be involved in the primary G1 arrest. Chromatin immunoprecipitation and reporter assays revealed that tylophorine enhanced the c-Jun downregulation of the cyclin A2 promoter activity upon increased binding of c-Jun to the deregulation AP1 site and decreased binding to the upregulation activating transcription factor (ATF) site in the cyclin A2 promoter, thereby reducing cyclin A2 expression. Further, biochemical studies using pharmacological inhibitors and RNA silencing approaches demonstrated that tylophorine-mediated elevation of the c-Jun protein level occurs primarily via two discrete prolonged signaling pathways: (i) the NF-κB/PKCδ_(MKK4)_JNK cascade, which phosphorylates c-Jun and increases its stability by slowing its ubiquitination, and (ii) the PI3K_PDK1_PP2A_eEF2 cascade, which sustains eukaryotic elongation factor 2 (eEF2) activity and thus c-Jun protein translation. To the best of our knowledge, this report is the first to demonstrate the involvement of c-Jun in the anticancer activity of tylophorine and the release of c-Jun translation from a global translational blockade via the PI3K_PDK1_eEF2 signaling cascade.

Yamada K, Ohno T, Aoki H, et al.
EWS/ATF1 expression induces sarcomas from neural crest-derived cells in mice.
J Clin Invest. 2013; 123(2):600-10 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
Clear cell sarcoma (CCS) is an aggressive soft tissue malignant tumor characterized by a unique t(12;22) translocation that leads to the expression of a chimeric EWS/ATF1 fusion gene. However, little is known about the mechanisms underlying the involvement of EWS/ATF1 in CCS development. In addition, the cellular origins of CCS have not been determined. Here, we generated EWS/ATF1-inducible mice and examined the effects of EWS/ATF1 expression in adult somatic cells. We found that forced expression of EWS/ATF1 resulted in the development of EWS/ATF1-dependent sarcomas in mice. The histology of EWS/ATF1-induced sarcomas resembled that of CCS, and EWS/ATF1-induced tumor cells expressed CCS markers, including S100, SOX10, and MITF. Lineage-tracing experiments indicated that neural crest-derived cells were subject to EWS/ATF1-driven transformation. EWS/ATF1 directly induced Fos in an ERK-independent manner. Treatment of human and EWS/ATF1-induced CCS tumor cells with FOS-targeted siRNA attenuated proliferation. These findings demonstrated that FOS mediates the growth of EWS/ATF1-associated sarcomas and suggest that FOS is a potential therapeutic target in human CCS.

Sidiropoulos M, Busam K, Guitart J, et al.
Superficial paramucosal clear cell sarcoma of the soft parts resembling melanoma in a 13-year-old boy.
J Cutan Pathol. 2013; 40(2):265-8 [PubMed] Related Publications
Clear cell sarcoma (CCS) of tendons and aponeuroses, also known as melanoma of soft parts, represents an aggressive rare malignancy that is characterized by a nested or fascicular pattern of spindled cells and a pathognomonic reciprocal translocation, t(12;22)(q13;q12), that results in the fusion of EWSR1 and ATF1 genes. Numerous recent studies have recognized the importance of a cutaneous CCS variant that can mimic a broad spectrum of entities, including spindle cell melanoma, spindle cell squamous carcinoma, cutaneous leiomyosarcoma and atypical fibroxanthoma. We report a case of a 13-year-old boy with cutaneous CCS who presented with a few months history of an asymptomatic papule on the lower lip that was suggestive of a mucocele. Biopsy of the lesion showed a wedge shaped neoplasm arranged in nests and fascicles of epithelioid- to oval-shaped cells with pale cytoplasm, open chromatin and prominent nucleolus. The superficial component was closely opposed to the basal epithelium resembling the junctional nests of a melanocytic neoplasm. The process extended into and involved the striated muscle of the lip. The cells expressed S-100, CD99 and synaptophysin by immunohistochemistry, and there was focal HMB-45 and microphthalmia transcription factor (MiTF) positivity as well. Fluorescence in situ hybridization confirmed the presence of the t(12;22) (ESWR1-ATF1) translocation.

Jones DT, Lechertier T, Mitter R, et al.
Gene expression analysis in human breast cancer associated blood vessels.
PLoS One. 2012; 7(10):e44294 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
Angiogenesis is essential for solid tumour growth, whilst the molecular profiles of tumour blood vessels have been reported to be different between cancer types. Although presently available anti-angiogenic strategies are providing some promise for the treatment of some cancers it is perhaps not surprisingly that, none of the anti-angiogenic agents available work on all tumours. Thus, the discovery of novel anti-angiogenic targets, relevant to individual cancer types, is required. Using Affymetrix microarray analysis of laser-captured, CD31-positive blood vessels we have identified 63 genes that are upregulated significantly (5-72 fold) in angiogenic blood vessels associated with human invasive ductal carcinoma (IDC) of the breast as compared with blood vessels in normal human breast. We tested the angiogenic capacity of a subset of these genes. Genes were selected based on either their known cellular functions, their enriched expression in endothelial cells and/or their sensitivity to anti-VEGF treatment; all features implicating their involvement in angiogenesis. For example, RRM2, a ribonucleotide reductase involved in DNA synthesis, was upregulated 32-fold in IDC-associated blood vessels; ATF1, a nuclear activating transcription factor involved in cellular growth and survival was upregulated 23-fold in IDC-associated blood vessels and HEX-B, a hexosaminidase involved in the breakdown of GM2 gangliosides, was upregulated 8-fold in IDC-associated blood vessels. Furthermore, in silico analysis confirmed that AFT1 and HEX-B also were enriched in endothelial cells when compared with non-endothelial cells. None of these genes have been reported previously to be involved in neovascularisation. However, our data establish that siRNA depletion of Rrm2, Atf1 or Hex-B had significant anti-angiogenic effects in VEGF-stimulated ex vivo mouse aortic ring assays. Overall, our results provide proof-of-principle that our approach can identify a cohort of potentially novel anti-angiogenic targets that are likley to be, but not exclusivley, relevant to breast cancer.

Gineikiene E, Seinin D, Brasiuniene B, et al.
Clear cell sarcoma expressing a novel chimerical transcript EWSR1 exon 7/ATF1 exon 6.
Virchows Arch. 2012; 461(3):339-43 [PubMed] Related Publications
Clear cell sarcoma harbours recurrent translocation, resulting in EWSR1/ATF1 or less commonly EWSR1/CREB1 fusion. To date, six types of EWSR1/ATF1 fusion have been reported, of which three are in-frame and encode functional proteins. We present a reverse transcription - polymerase chain reaction analysis of a tumour near the hallux of the right foot. The sequencing of obtained fragments revealed the presence of a novel chimerical transcript-the in-frame fusion between EWSR1 exon 7 and ATF1 exon 6 that represents the fourth in-frame type of EWSR1/ATF1 fusion identified in clear cell sarcomas.

Huang GL, Guo HQ, Yang F, et al.
Activating transcription factor 1 is a prognostic marker of colorectal cancer.
Asian Pac J Cancer Prev. 2012; 13(3):1053-7 [PubMed] Related Publications
OBJECTIVE: Identifying cancer-related genes or proteins is critical in preventing and controlling colorectal cancer (CRC). This study was to investigate the clinicopathological and prognostic value of activating transcription factor 1 (ATF1) in CRC.
METHODS: Protein expression of ATF1 was detected using immunohistochemistry in 66 CRC tissues. Clinicopathological association of ATF1 in CRC was analyzed with chi-square test or Fisher's exact test. The prognostic value of ATF1 in CRC is estimated using the Kaplan-Meier analysis and Cox regression models.
RESULTS: The ATF1 protein expression was significantly lower in tumor tissues than corresponding normal tissues (51.5% and 71.1%, respectively, P = 0.038). No correlation was found between ATF1 expression and the investigated clinicopathological parameters, including gender, age, depth of invasion, lymph node status, metastasis, pathological stage, vascular tumoral emboli, peritumoral deposits, chemotherapy and original tumor site (all with P > 0.05). Patients with higher ATF1 expression levels have a significantly higher survival rate than that with lower expression (P = 0.026 for overall survival, P = 0.008 for progress free survival). Multivariate Cox regression model revealed that ATF1 expression and depth of invasion were the predictors of the overall survival (P = 0.008 and P = 0.028) and progress free survival (P = 0.002 and P = 0.005) in CRC.
CONCLUSIONS: Higher ATF1 expression is a predictor of a favorable outcome for the overall survival and progress free survival in CRC.

Stockman DL, Miettinen M, Suster S, et al.
Malignant gastrointestinal neuroectodermal tumor: clinicopathologic, immunohistochemical, ultrastructural, and molecular analysis of 16 cases with a reappraisal of clear cell sarcoma-like tumors of the gastrointestinal tract.
Am J Surg Pathol. 2012; 36(6):857-68 [PubMed] Related Publications
The clinical, histologic, immunophenotypic, ultrastructural, and molecular features of a distinctive gastrointestinal tumor are described. Sixteen patients, 8 women and 8 men aged 17 to 77 years (mean age, 42 y; 63% less than 40 y) presented with abdominal pain, intestinal obstruction, and an abdominal mass. Mean tumor size was 5.2 cm (range, 2.4 to 15.0 cm). The tumors arose in the small bowel (10), stomach (4), and colon (2) and were histologically characterized by a sheet-like or nested population of epithelioid or oval-to-spindle cells with small nucleoli and scattered mitoses. Five cases showed focal clearing of the cytoplasm. Scattered osteoclast-type multinucleated giant cells were present in 8 cases. The tumor cells were positive for S-100 protein, SOX10, and vimentin in 100% of cases, for CD56 in 70%, for synaptophysin in 56%, for NB84 in 50%, for NSE in 45%, and for neurofilament protein in 14% of cases. All cases tested were negative for specific melanocytic, gastrointestinal stromal tumors, epithelial, and myoid markers. Ultrastructural examination of 5 cases showed features of primitive neuroectodermal cells with clear secretory vesicles, dense-core granules, occasional gap junctions, and no evidence of melanogenesis. EWSR1 gene rearrangement was assessed by fluorescence in situ hybridization in 14 cases. Twelve cases (86%) showed split EWSR1 signal consistent with a chromosomal translocation involving EWSR1. One case showed extra intact signals, indicating that the nuclei possessed either extra copies of the EWSR1 gene or chromosome 22 polysomy. Only 1 case showed no involvement of the EWSR1 gene. Six cases demonstrated rearrangement of the partner fusion gene ATF1 (46%), and 3 showed rearrangement of CREB1 (23%); 2 cases lacked rearrangement of either partner gene. Clinical follow-up was available in 12 patients and ranged from 1.5 to 106 months. Six patients died of their tumors (mean survival, 32 mo; 83% less than 24 mo). At last follow-up, 4 patients were alive with regional, lymph node, and liver metastases, and 2 patients were alive with no evidence of disease. The tumor described here is an aggressive form of neuroectodermal tumor that should be separated from other primitive epithelioid and spindle cell tumors of the gastrointestinal tract. The distinctive ultrastructural features and absence of melanocytic differentiation serve to separate them from soft tissue clear cell sarcomas involving the gastrointestinal tract. The designation "malignant gastrointestinal neuroectodermal tumor" is proposed for this tumor type.

Thway K, Nicholson AG, Wallace WA, et al.
Endobronchial pulmonary angiomatoid fibrous histiocytoma: two cases with EWSR1-CREB1 and EWSR1-ATF1 fusions.
Am J Surg Pathol. 2012; 36(6):883-8 [PubMed] Related Publications
Angiomatoid fibrous histiocytoma (AFH) is a rare soft tissue neoplasm of intermediate biological potential, predominantly occurring in the extremities of children and young adults. It has only recently been reported as a primary lung tumor. We describe 2 cases arising endobronchially harboring EWSR1 gene rearrangements by fluorescence in situ hybridization and, respectively, EWSR1-CREB1 and EWSR1-ATF1 gene fusions by reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction. Histologically, both tumors showed classical features of AFH, comprising multiple nodules of bland spindle to epithelioid cells surrounded by lymphoplasmacytic inflammation and at least a partial fibrous capsule. Both tumors showed focal but strong desmin immunoreactivity, with focal pancytokeratin and epithelial membrane antigen in 1 case. The lung is now a recognized site of AFH occurrence, but tumors arising here can be associated with different gene fusions. It is important to recognize AFH in the pulmonary region, as its behavior at other sites is generally relatively indolent; however, it may be mistaken for metastatic or more aggressive primary lung tumors. It is likely that cases of AFH in the lung may have been previously missed because of their morphologic and genetic overlap with other pulmonary lesions.

Gambichler T, Pantelaki I, Othlinghaus N, et al.
Deep intronic point mutations of the KIT gene in a female patient with cutaneous clear cell sarcoma and her family.
Cancer Genet. 2012; 205(4):182-5 [PubMed] Related Publications
Clear cell sarcoma (CCS) of tendons and aponeuroses is an aggressive neoplasm that is characterized by a pathognomonic translocation, t(12;22)(q13;q12), resulting in an EWSR1-ATF1 chimeric gene. We report for the first time a female patient with CCS exhibiting both EWSR1-ATF1 fusion transcripts and hereditary homozygous point mutations in introns 11 and 16 of the KIT gene. Her parents and two brothers each had heterozygous point mutations in intron 11 or intron 16 of the KIT gene. The functional significance of these germline deep intronic point mutations and their relationship to the pathogenesis of CCS are unclear. Future studies investigating KIT intron mutations in a larger cohort of CCS patients are warranted.

Thway K, Fisher C
Tumors with EWSR1-CREB1 and EWSR1-ATF1 fusions: the current status.
Am J Surg Pathol. 2012; 36(7):e1-e11 [PubMed] Related Publications
EWSR1-CREB1 and EWSR1-ATF1 are gene fusions of which one or both have now been consistently described in 5 histopathologically and behaviorally diverse neoplasms: angiomatoid fibrous histiocytoma, conventional clear cell sarcoma (of tendons and aponeuroses), clear cell sarcoma-like tumor of the gastrointestinal tract, hyalinizing clear cell carcinoma of the salivary gland, and primary pulmonary myxoid sarcoma. Some of the tumors in this group have been described only recently, and others have been the subject of recent genetic insights contributing to their characterization. These neoplasms are all rare; yet, the increasing frequency with which EWSR1-CREB1 and EWSR1-ATF1 fusions are being described in separate entities is noteworthy. The additional molecular mechanisms by which tumors with such variable morphologic, immunohistochemical, and clinical phenotypes are generated are yet to be understood. We review the clinicopathologic and molecular features of this group of neoplasms unified by the presence of EWSR1-CREB1 and EWSR1-ATF1 genetic fusions.

Falconieri G, Bacchi CE, Luzar B
Cutaneous clear cell sarcoma: report of three cases of a potentially underestimated mimicker of spindle cell melanoma.
Am J Dermatopathol. 2012; 34(6):619-25 [PubMed] Related Publications
Clear cell sarcoma is a unique soft tissue tumor with distinct microscopic features that include a nested or fascicular pattern of spindle cells accompanied by larger wreath-like giant cells scattered throughout. It harbors a unique EWSR1-ATF1 gene fusion secondary to a t(12;22)(q13;q12) translocation. Recently, it was reported that clear cell sarcoma can occur in the skin and mimic a broad spectrum of entities, including spindle cell melanoma. Here, we describe 3 new cases of clear cell sarcoma of the skin, all of which were confirmed molecularly. The patients, a 12-year-old boy, a 29-year-old woman, and a 60-year-old man, had cutaneous lesions on the thigh, dorsum of foot, and sole, respectively. All 3 lesions were originally considered suspicious of spindle cell melanoma. Microscopically, the lesions featured nodular proliferation centered in the dermis that consisted of discrete fascicles of spindle cell enmeshed by thin fibrous strands. Wreath-like cells were present in all cases. Tumor cells were positive for S100 protein (3 of 3 cases), melan A (2 of 3 cases), HMB 45 (1 of 3 cases) although a junctional melanocytic proliferation was seen in 1 case. Sentinel lymph node biopsy was negative in 2 patients. Follow-up was uneventful in 2 patients, whereas the other patient developed a lymph node metastasis 5 months after primary tumor excision. This study confirms that malignant dermal tumors that mimic but do not exactly replicate spindle cell melanoma should raise suspicion for cutaneous clear cell sarcoma and prompt the investigation for the confirmatory gene fusion t(12;22).

Yang L, Chen Y, Cui T, et al.
Identification of biomarkers to distinguish clear cell sarcoma from malignant melanoma.
Hum Pathol. 2012; 43(9):1463-70 [PubMed] Related Publications
Clear cell sarcoma is a rare and malignant soft tissue tumor that shows phenotypic and immunohistochemical overlap with cutaneous malignant melanoma; identification of biomarkers that differentiate clear cell sarcoma from malignant melanoma is therefore needed. In this study, we performed mutation analysis of BRAF and NRAS, investigated the EWSR1 gene rearrangement and evaluated the protein expression of insulin-like growth factor 2 and insulin-like growth factor 1R in 31 cases of malignant melanoma and 16 cases of clear cell sarcoma. By direct sequencing and high-resolution melting analysis, we identified BRAF and NRAS mutations in 51.6% and 12.9% of malignant melanoma cases, respectively, while none of clear cell sarcoma harbored BRAF or NRAS mutations. Fluorescence in situ hybridization showed that 78.6% of clear cell sarcoma exhibited the t(12;22)(q13;q12) translocation. The presence of type 1, 2, and 3 EWSR1/ATF1 fusion gene transcripts was confirmed by reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction analysis, but type 4 and EWSR1/CREB1 fusion gene transcripts were not found. No fusion transcript could be detected in any of the malignant melanoma cases. Additionally, immunohistochemistry showed that the majority of clear cell sarcoma and malignant melanoma had insulin-like growth factor 2 and insulin-like growth factor receptor 1 expression; however the expression of insulin-like growth factor 1R was significantly higher in clear cell sarcoma compared to melanoma (p = .006). Our results suggest that the combination of BRAF and NRAS mutation analysis with fusion gene detection contributes to diagnosis of malignant melanoma and clear cell sarcoma, and that insulin-like growth factor 1R might be a novel target for the treatment of these two malignancies.

Flucke U, Mentzel T, Verdijk MA, et al.
EWSR1-ATF1 chimeric transcript in a myoepithelial tumor of soft tissue: a case report.
Hum Pathol. 2012; 43(5):764-8 [PubMed] Related Publications
Soft tissue myoepithelial tumors, a recently defined entity, include benign and malignant lesions showing a considerable morphological and immunohistochemical heterogeneity. EWSR1 rearrangements are well recognized in this tumor type, and some of the partner genes have been identified. Herein we describe a soft tissue myoepithelioma arising in the pelvis with an EWSR1-ATF1 fusion, therefore extending the spectrum of partner genes of EWSR1. In addition, this case indicates that there are overlapping genetic features of myoepithelial tumors, clear cell sarcoma, angiomatoid fibrous histiocytoma, and hyalinizing clear-cell carcinoma of the salivary gland.

Chen G, Folpe AL, Colby TV, et al.
Angiomatoid fibrous histiocytoma: unusual sites and unusual morphology.
Mod Pathol. 2011; 24(12):1560-70 [PubMed] Related Publications
Angiomatoid fibrous histiocytoma is a soft tissue neoplasm of low malignant potential, typically occurring in the superficial soft tissues of the extremities in children and young adults. Occurrence outside somatic soft tissues is most uncommon. This report describes eight such cases, involving the lung (three cases), mediastinum (one case), vulva (two cases), retroperitoneum (one case) and ovary (one case), with the latter three locations being hitherto unreported sites of occurrence. Patients had a median age of 48 years, and presented with symptoms related to the mass lesion (five cases) or were incidentally found to harbor a tumor (three cases). Besides the typical histological features such as an outer shell of lymphoid tissue, multinodular aggregates of dendritic-like tumor cells, blood-filled spaces and abundant admixed plasma cells, unusual features were found focally in some cases, including clear cells, rhabdomyoblast-like cells, pulmonary edema-like pattern and tumor cell cords lying in a myxoid stroma. Immunoreactivity for the epithelial membrane antigen, desmin, smooth-muscle actin, CD68 and CD99 was found in 100, 63, 43, 100 and 100% of cases, respectively. Molecular studies provided support for the diagnosis in all seven tested cases-EWS gene translocation in six cases (partner gene being CREB1 in three and ATF1 in two in which information was available) and FUS gene translocation in one case. Comparison of the reported cases of extrasomatic angiomatoid fibrous histiocytoma with their somatic soft tissue counterparts showed a number of differences: higher mean age, slight male predominance (particularly for bone lesions), larger tumors, higher frequency of systemic symptoms, higher recurrence rate, myxoid change being more common and a much higher frequency of EWS/ATF1 gene fusion.

Antonescu CR, Katabi N, Zhang L, et al.
EWSR1-ATF1 fusion is a novel and consistent finding in hyalinizing clear-cell carcinoma of salivary gland.
Genes Chromosomes Cancer. 2011; 50(7):559-70 [PubMed] Related Publications
Hyalinizing clear-cell carcinoma (HCCC) is a rare, low-grade salivary gland tumor with distinctive clear-cell morphology and pattern of hyalinization as well as focal mucinous differentiation. However, histological overlap exists with other salivary gland tumors, such as epithelial-myoepithelial carcinoma (EMCa), salivary myoepithelial carcinoma, and mucoepidermoid carcinoma (MEC). The potential relationship between HCCC and its morphological mimics has not been yet investigated at the genetic level. In this study, we conducted a molecular analysis for the presence of rearrangements in MAML2, commonly seen in MECs, and EWSR1, involved in "soft tissue myoepithelial tumors" (SMET) by fusion with POU5F1, PBX1, or ZNF444. Fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH) was performed on 23 HCCC cases for abnormalities in MAML2, EWSR1, FUS, POU5F1, PBX1, and ZNF444. FISH for MAML2 was negative in all cases (0 of 14), including those with mucinous differentiation (0 of 7). An EWSR1 rearrangement was identified in 18 of 22 HCCCs (82%), while no break-apart signals were seen in FUS, POU5F1, PBX1, or ZNF444. 3'RACE on an EWSR1 rearranged HCCC identified an EWSR1-ATF1 fusion, which was confirmed by RT-PCR. ATF1 involvement was further confirmed by FISH analysis in 13 of 14 EWSR1-rearranged HCCC cases (93%). In contrast, all control cases tested, including among others 5 EMCa and 3 MEC with clear cells, were negative for EWSR1 and ATF1 rearrangements. The presence of EWSR1-ATF1 fusion in most HCCCs reliably separates these tumors from its histological mimics. The distinction from MEC is particularly important, as conventional MEC grading schemes overgrade these indolent HCCCs, potentially impacting on treatment.

Jakubauskas A, Valceckiene V, Andrekute K, et al.
Discovery of two novel EWSR1/ATF1 transcripts in four chimerical transcripts-expressing clear cell sarcoma and their quantitative evaluation.
Exp Mol Pathol. 2011; 90(2):194-200 [PubMed] Related Publications
The most common recurrent translocation in clear cell sarcoma t(12;22)(q13;q12) results in an EWSR1/ATF1 chimeric gene. We present a molecular analysis of tumor overgrowing right proximal tibia with bone destruction metastatic to two groin lymph nodes. Fluorescent in situ hybridization analysis performed on paraffin-embedded tissue sections of primary tumor sample indicated one rearranged locus of EWSR1 gene and one additional red signal. Reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction analysis revealed the presence of four different EWSR1/ATF1 chimerical transcripts in the tumor sample as well as in both metastatic lymph nodes. Two previously described transcripts EWSR1exon7/ATF1exon5 and EWSR1exon8/ATF1exon4, and two novel transcripts EWSR1exon7/ATF1exon4 and EWSR1exon9/ATF1exon4 were identified. Both novel transcripts were out-of-frame fusions and, therefore, most likely had limited biological impact in oncogenesis of clear cell sarcoma. Quantitative evaluation demonstrated unequal distribution of these transcripts, with EWSR1exon8/ATF1exon4 type being overexpressed.

Su B, Tang HL, Deng M, et al.
Stage-associated dynamic activity profile of transcription factors in nasopharyngeal carcinoma progression based on protein/DNA array analysis.
OMICS. 2011 Jan-Feb; 15(1-2):49-60 [PubMed] Related Publications
Transcription factors (TFs) are crucial modulators of gene regulation during the development and progression of tumors. We previously reported the activation of TFs in nasopharyngeal carcinoma (NPC) cell lines. In this study, we explored the activity profiles of TFs in Protein/DNA array data of a 12-tissue independent set and a 13-tissue pooled set of NPC that included different clinical stages. TFs associated with tumor progression were revealed using a generalized linear model-based regression analysis. Immunohistochemical analysis of clinical NPC samples was used to validate the results of array analysis. We identified 26 TFs that showed increased activities. Of these 26 TFs, 16 were correlated with clinical stages. Activity changes of AP2 and ATF/CREB were confirmed by electrophoretic mobility shift assay (EMSA), and increased expression of AP2α, β, γ, ATF2, and ATF1 in nuclei of tumor cells was associated with clinical stages. In addition, the expressions of AP2α, ATF2, and ATF1 were correlated with those of their target genes (epithelia growth factor receptor (EGFR) and matrix metalloproteinase 2 (MMP-2), respectively). This study provides data and valuable clues that can be used to further investigate the laws of gene transcription regulation in NPC and to identify suitable targets for the development of TF-targeted antitumor agents.

Song JS, Choi J, Kim JH, et al.
Diagnostic utility of EWS break-apart fluorescence in situ hybridization in distinguishing between non-cutaneous melanoma and clear cell sarcoma.
Pathol Int. 2010; 60(9):608-13 [PubMed] Related Publications
Clear cell sarcoma (CCS) is a rare soft tissue sarcoma with morphological similarities to malignant melanoma (MM), but with a distinct genetic background that includes the chromosomal translocation t(12;22)(q13;q12). Clear cell sarcoma is often misdiagnosed as MM because of similarities in target locations and immunophenotypes. Eighteen cases with MM in non-cutaneous sites were subjected to fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH) to assess EWS gene breakage. Tissue microarrays were constructed using formalin-fixed, paraffin-embedded tissue and the EWSR1 (22q12) dual-color, break-apart rearrangement probe (Vysis) was used. Two patients were classified as CCS with EWS gene rearrangement, with a mean of 67.5% positive cells per sample according to break-apart FISH. The remaining 16 patients lacked break-apart signals of the EWS gene. The presence of type 1 (EWS exon 8-ATF1 exon 4) fusion transcripts was confirmed in FISH-positive patients by RT-PCR. Retrospective analysis revealed that the masses were located in the foot and buttock, respectively. Morphologically, tumor cells were not typical for those of CCS or MM. Break-apart FISH is an accurate and convenient method for differentiating between MM and CCS. Molecular detection of EWS gene rearrangement, either by break-apart FISH or RT-PCR, is mandatory in subjects with melanotic tumors of soft tissue.

Müller-Tidow C, Klein HU, Hascher A, et al.
Profiling of histone H3 lysine 9 trimethylation levels predicts transcription factor activity and survival in acute myeloid leukemia.
Blood. 2010; 116(18):3564-71 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
Acute myeloid leukemia (AML) is commonly associated with alterations in transcription factors because of altered expression or gene mutations. These changes might induce leukemia-specific patterns of histone modifications. We used chromatin-immunoprecipitation on microarray to analyze histone 3 lysine 9 trimethylation (H3K9me3) patterns in primary AML (n = 108), acute lymphoid leukemia (n = 28), CD34(+) cells (n = 21) and white blood cells (n = 15) specimens. Hundreds of promoter regions in AML showed significant alterations in H3K9me3 levels. H3K9me3 deregulation in AML occurred preferentially as a decrease in H3K9me3 levels at core promoter regions. The altered genomic regions showed an overrepresentation of cis-binding sites for ETS and cyclic adenosine monophosphate response elements (CREs) for transcription factors of the CREB/CREM/ATF1 family. The decrease in H3K9me3 levels at CREs was associated with increased CRE-driven promoter activity in AML blasts in vivo. AML-specific H3K9me3 patterns were not associated with known cytogenetic abnormalities. But a signature derived from H3K9me3 patterns predicted event-free survival in AML patients. When the H3K9me3 signature was combined with established clinical prognostic markers, it outperformed prognosis prediction based on clinical parameters alone. These findings demonstrate widespread changes of H3K9me3 levels at gene promoters in AML. Signatures of histone modification patterns are associated with patient prognosis in AML.

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