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Systems biology analysis for Ewing sarcoma

Petrizzelli, Marianyela; Merlevede, Jane; Zinovyev, Andrei

Ewing sarcoma (EwS) is a highly aggressive pediatric bone cancer that is defined by a somatic fusion between the EWSR1 gene and an ETS family member, most frequently the FLI1 gene, leading to expression of a chimeric transcription factor EWSR1−FLI1. Otherwise, EwS is one of the most genetically stable cancers. The situation when the major cancer driver is well known looks like a unique opportunity for applying the systems biology approach in order to understand the EwS mechanisms as well as to uncover some general mechanistic principles of carcinogenesis. A number of studies have been performed revealing the direct and indirect effects of EWSR1−FLI1 on multiple aspects of cellular life. Nevertheless, the emerging picture of the oncogene action appears to be highly complex and systemic, with multiple reciprocal influences between the immediate consequences of the driver mutation and intracellular and intercellular molecular mechanisms, including regulation of transcription, epigenome and tumoral microenvironment. In this chapter, we present an overview of existing molecular profiling resources available for EwS tumors and cell lines and provide an online comprehensive catalogue of publicly available omics and other datasets. We further highlight the systems biology studies of EwS, involving mathematical modeling of networks and integration of molecular data. We conclude that despite the seeming simplicity, a lot has yet to be understood on the systems−wide mechanisms connecting the driver mutation and the major cellular phenotypes of this pediatric cancer. Overall, this chapter can serve as a guide for a systems biology researcher to start working on EwS.

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