VGLL2-NCOA2 leverages developmental programs for pediatric sarcomagenesis

Sarah Watson, Collette A. LaVigne, Lin Xu, Didier Surdez, Joanna Cyrta, Delia Calderon, Matthew V. Cannon, Matthew R. Kent, Katherine M. Silvius, Jack P. Kucinski, Emma N. Harrison, Whitney Murchison, Dinesh Rakheja, Franck Tirode, Olivier Delattre, James F. Amatruda, Genevieve C. Kendall

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Clinical sequencing efforts are rapidly identifying sarcoma gene fusions that lack functional validation. An example is the fusion of transcriptional coactivators, VGLL2-NCOA2, found in infantile rhabdomyosarcoma. To delineate VGLL2-NCOA2 tumorigenic mechanisms and identify therapeutic vulnerabilities, we implement a cross-species comparative oncology approach with zebrafish, mouse allograft, and patient samples. We find that VGLL2-NCOA2 is sufficient to generate mesenchymal tumors that display features of immature skeletal muscle and recapitulate the human disease. A subset of VGLL2-NCOA2 zebrafish tumors transcriptionally cluster with embryonic somitogenesis and identify VGLL2-NCOA2 developmental programs, including a RAS family GTPase, ARF6. In VGLL2-NCOA2 zebrafish, mouse, and patient tumors, ARF6 is highly expressed. ARF6 knockout suppresses VGLL2-NCOA2 oncogenic activity in cell culture, and, more broadly, ARF6 is overexpressed in adult and pediatric sarcomas. Our data indicate that VGLL2-NCOA2 is an oncogene that leverages developmental programs for tumorigenesis and that reactivation or persistence of ARF6 could represent a therapeutic opportunity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number112013
JournalCell Reports
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 31 2023


  • CP: Cancer
  • cross-species comparative oncology
  • developmental biology
  • functional genomics
  • fusion oncogene
  • pediatric cancer
  • rhabdomyosarcoma

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology


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