Wilms' tumour is a paediatric malignancy of the kidneys that affects one in every 10 000 live births, making it the most common solid tumour in the young. This cancer arises due to a failure of the metanephric mesenchyme to differentiate and form the kidney filtration units and tubules, which instead undergo uncontrolled proliferation. WT1 (Wilms' tumour 1) was identified as a factor that is frequently mutated in Wilms' tumours. WT1 plays a central role in the development of the genito-urinary organs and also other regions of the embryo. A major function of WT1 is to act as a regulator of transcription, controlling the expression of genes that are involved in proliferation and differentiation. WT1 can either activate or repress transcription of its target genes. Thus the transcription function of WT1 is highly context-specific, and can be modulated by a number of cofactors. Here, the known interaction partners of WT1 and the mechanisms by which they modulate WT1 transcription function will be discussed.
- © 2006 Biochemical Society