Cholecystokinin down-regulation by RNA interference impairs Ewing tumor growth

Jaime Carrillo, Eva García-Aragoncillo, Daniel Azorín, Noelia Agra, Ana Sastre, Imelda González-Mediero, Purificación García-Miguel, Ángel Pestaña, Soledad Gallego, Dolores Segura, Javier Alonso*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

58 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose: Tumors of the Ewing family are characterized by chromosomal translocations that yield chimeric transcription factors, such as EWS/FLI1, which regulate the expression of specific genes that contribute to the malignant phenotype. In the present study, we show that cholecystokinin (CCK) is a new target of the EWS/FLI1 oncoprotein and assess its functional role in Ewing tumor pathogenesis. Experimental Design: Relevant EWS/FLI1 targets were identified using a combination of cell systems with inducible EWS/FLI1 expression, Ewing tumors and cell lines, microarrays, and RNA interference with doxycycline-inducible small hairpin RNA (shRNA) vectors. A doxycycline-inducible CCK-shRNA vector was stably transfected in A673 and SK-PN-DW Ewing cell lines to assess the role of CCK in cell proliferation and tumor growth. Results: Microarray analysis revealed that CCK was up-regulated by EWS/FLI1 in HeLa cells. CCK was overexpressed in Ewing tumors as compared with other pediatric malignancies such as rhabdomyosarcoma and neuroblastoma, with levels close to those detected in normal tissues expressing the highest levels of CCK. Furthermore, EWS/FLI1 knockdown in A673 and SK-PN-DW Ewing cells using two different doxycycline-inducible EWS/FLI1-specific shRNA vectors down-regulated CCK mRNA expression and diminished the levels of secreted CCK, showing that CCK is a EWS/FLI1 specific target gene in Ewing cells. A doxycycline-inducible CCK-specific shRNA vector successfully down-regulated CCK expression, reduced the levels of secreted CCK in Ewing cell lines, and inhibited cell growth and proliferation in vitro and in vivo. Finally, we show that Ewing cell lines and tumors express CCK receptors and that the growth inhibition produced by CCK silencing can be rescued by culturing the cells with medium containing CCK. Conclusions: Our data support the hypothesis that CCK acts as an autocrine growth factor stimulating the proliferation of Ewing cells and suggest that therapies targeting CCK could be promising in the treatment of Ewing tumors.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)2429-2440
Number of pages12
JournalClinical Cancer Research
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 15 Apr 2007


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