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Open Access Research article

Carnitine palmitoyltransferase 1A (CPT1A): a transcriptional target of PAX3-FKHR and mediates PAX3-FKHR–dependent motility in alveolar rhabdomyosarcoma cells

Lingling Liu1, Yong-Dong Wang2, Jing Wu1, Jimmy Cui1 and Taosheng Chen1*

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Chemical Biology and Therapeutics, St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, 262 Danny Thomas Place, Memphis, TN, 38105, USA

2 Hartwell Center for Bioinformatics and Biotechnology, St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, 262 Danny Thomas Place, Memphis, TN, 38105, USA

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BMC Cancer 2012, 12:154  doi:10.1186/1471-2407-12-154

Published: 25 April 2012

Abstract

Background

Alveolar rhabdomyosarcoma (ARMS) has a high propensity to metastasize, leading to its aggressiveness and a poor survival rate among those with the disease. More than 80% of aggressive ARMSs harbor a PAX3-FKHR fusion transcription factor, which regulates cell migration and promotes metastasis, most likely by regulating the fusion protein’s transcriptional targets. Therefore, identifying druggable transcription targets of PAX3-FKHR that are also downstream effectors of PAX3-FKHR–mediated cell migration and metastasis may lead to novel therapeutic approaches for treating ARMS.

Methods

To identify genes whose expression is directly affected by the level of PAX3-FKHR in an ARMS cellular-context, we first developed an ARMS cell line in which PAX3-FKHR is stably down-regulated, and showed that stably downregulating PAX3-FKHR in ARMS cells significantly decreased the cells’ motility. We used microarray analysis to identify genes whose expression level decreased when PAX3-FKHR was downregulated. We used mutational analysis, promoter reporter assays, and electrophoretic mobility shift assays to determine whether PAX3-FKHR binds to the promoter region of the target gene. We used siRNA and pharmacologic inhibitor to downregulate the target gene of PAX3-FKHR and investigated the effect of such downregulation on cell motility.

Results

We found that when PAX3-FKHR was downregulated, the expression of carnitine palmitoyltransferase 1A (CPT1A) decreased. We showed that PAX3-FKHR binds to a paired-domain binding-site in the CPT1A promoter region, indicating that CPT1A is a novel transcriptional target of PAX3-FKHR. Furthermore, downregulating CPT1A decreased cell motility in ARMS cells, indicating that CPT1A is a downstream effector of PAX3-FKHR–mediated cell migration and metastasis.

Conclusions

Taken together, we have identified CPT1A as a novel transcriptional target of PAX3-FKHR and revealed the novel function of CPT1A in promoting cell motility. CPT1A may represent a novel therapeutic target for the treatment of ARMS.