Research Papers:

Chromatin remodeling protein HELLS is upregulated by inactivation of the RB-E2F pathway and is nonessential for osteosarcoma tumorigenesis

Stephanie C. Wu and Claudia A. Benavente _

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Oncotarget. 2018; 9:32580-32592. https://doi.org/10.18632/oncotarget.25953

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Stephanie C. Wu1 and Claudia A. Benavente1,2

1Department of Developmental and Cell Biology, University of California, Irvine, CA 92697, USA

2Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences, University of California, Irvine, CA 92697, USA

Correspondence to:

Claudia A. Benavente, email: [email protected]

Keywords: osteosarcoma; HELLS; RB; E2F; cancer

Received: May 29, 2018     Accepted: July 29, 2018     Published: August 24, 2018


Osteosarcoma is the most common primary bone malignancy in children and adolescents. Among the various molecular mechanisms implicated in osteosarcomagenesis, the RB-E2F pathway is of particular importance as virtually all cases of osteosarcoma display alterations in the RB-E2F pathway. In this study, we examined the transcription factor E2F family members that are associated with increased malignancy in Rb1-null osteosarcoma tumors. Using genetically engineered mouse models of osteosarcoma, we found that loss of activator E2Fs, E2F1 and E2F3, significantly delays tumor progression and increases the overall survival of the p53/Rb1-deficient osteosarcoma mouse model. We also studied the role of helicase, lymphoid specific (HELLS), a chromatin remodeling protein identified as a critical downstream effector of the RB-E2F signaling pathway in various cancers. In this study, we confirmed that the RB-E2F pathway directly regulates HELLS gene expression. We also found that HELLS mRNA is upregulated and its protein overexpressed in osteosarcoma. Using loss-of-function assays to study the role of HELLS in human osteosarcoma, we observed that HELLS has no effect on tumor proliferation and migration. Further, we pioneered the study of Hells in developmental tumor models by generating Hells conditional knockout osteosarcoma mouse models to examine the role of HELLS in osteosarcoma tumor development. We found that loss of Hells in osteosarcoma has no effect in tumor initiation and overall survival of mice. This suggests that while HELLS may serve as a biomarker for tumorigenesis and for RB-E2F pathway status, it is unlikely to serve as a relevant target for therapeutics in osteosarcoma.

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