Protein arginine methyltransferase 5 is essential for oncogene product EWSR1-ATF1-mediated gene transcription in clear cell sarcoma

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Transcription dysregulation is common in sarcomas driven by oncogenic transcription factors. Clear cell sarcoma of soft tissue (CCSST) is a rare sarcoma with poor prognosis presently with no therapy. It is characterized by a balanced t(12;22) (q13;q12) chromosomal translocation, resulting in a fusion of the Ewing's sarcoma gene EWSR1 with activating transcription factor 1 (ATF1) to give an oncogene EWSR1-ATF1. Unlike normal ATF1, whose transcription activity is dependent on phosphorylation, EWSR1-ATF1 is constitutively active to drive ATF1-dependent gene transcription to cause tumorigenesis. No EWSR1-ATF1-targeted therapies have been identified due to the challenges in targeting intracellular transcription factors. Through proteomics screening to identify potential druggable targets for CCSST, we discovered protein arginine methyltransferase 5 (PRMT5) as a novel protein to interact with EWSR1-ATF1. PRMT5 is a type II protein arginine methyltransferase to symmetrically dimethylate arginine residues in substrate proteins to regulate a diverse range of activities including gene transcription, RNA splicing, and DNA repair. We found that PRMT5 enhances EWSR1-ATF1-mediated gene transcription to sustain CCSST cell proliferation. Genetic silencing of PRMT5 in CCSST cells resulted in severely impaired cell proliferation and EWSR1-ATF1-driven transcription. Furthermore, we demonstrate that the clinical-stage PRMT5 inhibitor JNJ-64619178 potently and efficaciously inhibited CCSST cell growth in vitro and in vivo. These results provide new insights into PRMT5 as a transcription regulator and warrant JNJ-64619178 for further clinical development to treat CCSST patients.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number102434
JournalJournal of Biological Chemistry
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 2022


  • EWSR1-ATF1
  • JNJ-64619178
  • PRMT5
  • clear cell sarcoma
  • inhibitor
  • transcription

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


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