• The autocrine signaling mediated by NELL2 maintains Ewing sarcoma cell growth
• NELL2 signaling inhibits cdc42 and enhances EWS-FLI1 transcriptional output
• NELL2-cdc42 signaling regulates the assembly and the stability of BAF complexes
• Ewing sarcoma harbors cell populations displaying high and low NELL2 signaling
BAF chromatin remodeling complexes play important roles in chromatin regulation and cancer. Here, we report that Ewing sarcoma cells are dependent on the autocrine signaling mediated by NELL2, a secreted glycoprotein that has been characterized as an axon guidance molecule. NELL2 uses Robo3 as the receptor to transmit critical growth signaling. NELL2 signaling inhibits cdc42 and upregulates BAF complexes and EWS-FLI1 transcriptional output. We demonstrate that cdc42 is a negative regulator of BAF complexes, inducing actin polymerization and complex disassembly. Furthermore, we identify NELL2highCD133highEWS-FLI1high and NELL2lowCD133lowEWS-FLI1low populations in Ewing sarcoma, which display phenotypes consistent with high and low NELL2 signaling, respectively. We show that NELL2, CD133, and EWS-FLI1 positively regulate each other and upregulate BAF complexes and cell proliferation in Ewing sarcoma. These results reveal a signaling pathway regulating critical chromatin remodeling complexes and cancer cell proliferation.
Since 2004, UT Health San Antonio, Greehey Children’s Cancer Research Institute’s (Greehey CCRI) mission has been to advance scientific knowledge relevant to childhood cancer, contribute to the understanding of its causes, and accelerate the translation of knowledge into novel therapies. Through discovery, development, and dissemination of new scientific knowledge, Greehey CCRI strives to have a national and global impact on childhood cancer. Our mission consists of three key areas — research, clinical, and education.