Research Papers:

WT1 regulates angiogenesis in Ewing Sarcoma

Varalakshimi Katuri, Stephanie Gerber, Xiaofei Qiu, Gregory McCarty, Seth D. Goldstein, Hans Hammers, Elizabeth Montgomery, Allen R. Chen and David M. Loeb _

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Oncotarget. 2014; 5:2436-2449. https://doi.org/10.18632/oncotarget.1610

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Varalakshmi Katuri1, Stephanie Gerber2, Xiaofei Qiu3, Gregory McCarty1, Seth D. Goldstein1, Hans Hammers2, Elizabeth Montgomery3, Allen R. Chen1 and David M. Loeb1

1 Division of Pediatric Oncology, Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD

2 Division of Genitourinary Oncology, Department of Oncology, Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD

3 Department of Pathology, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD


Bunting-Blaustein, email:

Keywords: tumor angiogenesis, transcriptional regulation, tissue microarray, vascularity, alternative splicing

Received: November 18, 2013 Accepted: February 1, 2014 Published: February 3, 2014


Angiogenesis is required for tumor growth. WT1, a protein that affects both mRNA transcription and splicing, has recently been shown to regulate expression of vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), one of the major mediators of angiogenesis. In the present study, we tested the hypothesis that WT1 is a key regulator of tumor angiogenesis in Ewing sarcoma. We expressed exogenous WT1 in the WT1-null Ewing sarcoma cell line, SK-ES-1, and we suppressed WT1 expression using shRNA in the WT1-positive Ewing sarcoma cell line, MHH-ES. Suppression of WT1 in MHH-ES cells impairs angiogenesis, while expression of WT1 in SK-ES-1 cells causes increased angiogenesis. Different WT1 isoforms result in vessels with distinct morphologies, and this correlates with preferential upregulation of particular VEGF isoforms. WT1-expressing tumors show increased expression of pro-angiogenic molecules such as VEGF, MMP9, Ang-1, and Tie-2, supporting the hypothesis that WT1 is a global regulator of angiogenesis. We also demonstrate that WT1 regulates the expression of a panel of pro-angiogenic molecules in Ewing sarcoma cell lines. Finally, we found that WT1 expression is correlated with VEGF expression, MMP9 expression, and microvessel density in samples of primary Ewing sarcoma. Thus, our results demonstrate that WT1 expression directly regulates tumor angiogenesis by controlling the expression of a panel of pro-angiogenic genes.

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