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The neuronal repressor REST/NRSF is an essential regulator in medulloblastoma cells

An Erratum to this article was published on 01 September 2000


Medulloblastoma is the most malignant pediatric brain tumor. It is believed to originate from the undifferentiated external granule layer cells in the cerebellum, but the mechanism of tumorigenesis remains unknown1,2,3,4,5,6. Here we studied three types of human medulloblastoma cells that express markers corresponding to different levels of neuronal differentiation. They expressed the neuronal repressor element 1 (RE1) silencing transcription factor/neuron-restrictive silencer factor (REST/NRSF; refs. 710) at very high levels compared with either neuronal progenitor NTera2 (NT2) cells or fully differentiated human neuron teratocarcinoma (hNT cells). To counter the effect of REST/NRSF, we used a recombinant transcription factor, REST–VP16, constructed by replacing repressor domains of REST/NRSF with the activation domain of viral protein (VP16). Transient expression of REST–VP16 in medulloblastoma cells was able to compete with the endogenous REST/NRSF for DNA binding and stimulate neuronal promoters. High-efficiency expression of REST–VP16 mediated by adenovirus vectors (Ad.REST–VP16) in medulloblastoma cells was able to counter REST/NRSF-mediated repression of neuronal promoters, stimulate expression of endogenous neuronal genes and trigger apoptosis through the activation of caspase cascades. Furthermore, intratumoral injection of Ad.REST–VP16 in established medulloblastoma tumors in nude mice inhibited their growth. Therefore, REST/NRSF may serve as a new target for therapeutic interventions for medulloblastoma through agents such as REST–VP16.

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Figure 1: Medulloblastoma cells contain high levels of endogenous REST/NRSF activity that can be countered by REST–VP16.
Figure 2: Ad.REST–VP16 activates neural differentiation marker genes but does not alter the expression of neural stem cell genes in Daoy cells.
Figure 3: Adenovirus-mediated expression of REST–VP16 triggers apoptosis in Daoy cells.
Figure 4: REST–VP16 inhibits growth of established medulloblastoma tumors in nude mice.


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We thank G. Mandel for her gift of pREST-Express, p73, pBS.REST and pSDK7; T. Kanda and G. Wahl for pH2BGFP-N1; C. Gomez-Manzano, J. Rossi, G. Lewandowicz and L. Wu for technical help, J.Yung for proof-reading and G. Mandeland G. Mandel and K. Smith for their comments. This work was supported in part by grants to S.M. from the Pediatric Brain Tumor Foundation of the United States and the National Institutes of Health (CA51255, GM53454). L.R. was supported by a Translational Research Award from the American Brain Tumor Association.

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Correspondence to Sadhan Majumder.

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Lawinger, P., Venugopal, R., Guo, ZS. et al. The neuronal repressor REST/NRSF is an essential regulator in medulloblastoma cells. Nat Med 6, 826–831 (2000).

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