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Vivian Rosery, Henning Reis, Konstantinos Savvatakis, Bernd Kowall, Martin Stuschke, Andreas Paul, Alexander Dechêne, JiaJin Yang, Ben Zhao, Arianna Borgers, Stefan Kasper, Martin Schuler, Phyllis F Cheung, and Jens T Siveke

The tumor immune microenvironment (TME) represents a key determinant for responses to cancer treatment. However, the immune phenotype of highly proliferative gastroenteropancreatic neuroendocrine neoplasms (GEP-NEN) is still largely elusive. In this retrospective study, we characterized the TME of high-grade (G3, Ki-67 > 20%) GEP-NEN. We analyzed formalin-fixed paraffin-embedded samples from 37 patients with GEP-NEN G3 by immunohistochemistry and multiplex immunofluorescence to address the abundance and spatial interaction of relevant immune subsets. We focused on the expression of immune checkpoint molecules PD-1 and PD-L1, the cytotoxic T-cell marker CD8, and the tumor-associated macrophage marker CD206. Findings were correlated with overall survival (OS) from the date of a cancer diagnosis. Patients with PD-L1-positive tumors (CPS ≥ 1) and intense PD-1+CD8+ immune cell infiltration showed the most favorable median OS. Multiplex immunofluorescence staining of ten representative tissue samples illustrated intratumoral heterogeneity of PD-L1 expression. Dense PD-1+CD8+ immune cell infiltrates were observed in PD-L1-positive tumor regions but not in PD-L1-negative regions. Proximity analysis revealed a spatial interaction between PD-1+CD8+ cells and PD-L1-positive cells. Our data suggest a pre-existing antitumor immune response in the TME in a subgroup of GEP-NEN G3. This supports a targeted clinical exploration of immunotherapeutic approaches.

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Garcilaso Riesco-Eizaguirre, Pilar Santisteban, and Antonio De la Vieja

The sodium/iodide symporter (NIS) is an intrinsic plasma membrane protein that mediates active iodide transport into the thyroid gland and into several extrathyroidal tissues. NIS-mediated iodide uptake plays a pivotal role in the biosynthesis of thyroid hormones, of which iodide is an essential constituent. For 80 years, radioiodide has been used for the diagnosis and treatment of thyroid cancer, a successful theranostic agent that is extending its use to extrathyroidal malignancies. The purpose of this review is to focus on the most recent findings regarding the mechanisms that regulate NIS both in thyroid and extra-thyroidal tissues. Among other issues, we discuss the different transcriptional regulatory elements that govern NIS transcription in different tissues, the epigenetic modifications that regulate its expression, and the role that miRNAs play in fine-tuning NIS after being transcribed. A review on how hormones, cytokines, and iodide itself regulate NIS is provided. We also review the present stage of understanding NIS dysregulation in cancer, occupied mainly by convergent signaling pathways and by new insights in the route that NIS follows through different subcellular compartments to the plasma membrane. Furthermore, we cover NIS distribution and function in the increasing number of extrathyroidal tissues that express the symporter, as well as the role that NIS plays in tumor progression independently of its transport activity.

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Li Qin, Jianwei Chen, Dong Lu, Prashi Jain, Yang Yu, David Cardenas, Xiaohui Peng, Xiaobin Yu, Jianming Xu, Jin Wang, Bert W O’Malley, and David M Lonard

Steroid receptor coactivators (SRCs) possess specific and distinct oncogenic roles in the initiation of cancer and in its progression to a more aggressive disease. These coactivators interact with nuclear receptors and other transcription factors to boost transcription of multiple genes, which potentiate cancer cell proliferation, migration, invasion, tumor angiogenesis and epithelial–mesenchymal transition (EMT). Targeting SRCs using small molecule inhibitors (SMIs) is a promising approach to control cancer progression and metastasis. By high-throughput screening analysis, we recently identified SI-2 as a potent SRC SMI. To develop therapeutic agents, SI-10 and SI-12, the SI-2 analogs are synthesized that incorporate the addition of F atoms to the SI-2 chemical structure. As a result, these analogs exhibit a significantly prolonged plasma half-life, minimal toxicity and improved hERG activity. Biological functional analysis showed that SI-10 and SI-12 treatment (5–50 nM) can significantly inhibit viability, migration and invasion of breast cancer cells in vitro and repress the growth of breast cancer PDX organoids. Treatment of mice with 10 mg/kg/day of either SI-10 or SI-12 was sufficient to repress the growth of xenograft tumors derived from MDA-MB-231 and LM2 cells. Furthermore, in spontaneous and experimental metastasis mouse models developed from MDA-MB-231 and LM2 cells, respectively, SI-10 and SI-12 effectively inhibited the progression of breast cancer lung metastasis. These results demonstrate that SI-10 and SI-12 are promising therapeutic agents and are specifically effective in blocking tumor metastasis, a key point in tumor progression to a more lethal state that results in patient mortality in the majority of cases.

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Sissy M Jhiang and Jennifer A Sipos

For the past 80 years, radioiodine (131I) has been used to ablate thyroid tissue not removed by surgery or to treat differentiated thyroid cancer that has metastasized to other parts of the body. However, the Na+/I symporter (NIS), which mediates active iodide uptake into thyroid follicular cells, is also expressed in several non-thyroidal tissues. This NIS expression permits 131I accumulation and radiation damage in these non-target tissues, which accounts for the adverse effects of radioiodine therapy. We will review the data regarding the expression, function, and regulation of NIS in non-thyroidal tissues and explain the seemingly paradoxical adverse effects induced by 131I, the self-limited gastrointestinal adverse effects in contrast to the permanent salivary dysfunction that is seen after 131I therapy. We propose that prospective studies are needed to uncover the time-course of pathological processes underlying development and progression or ultimate resolution of 131I-induced salivary ductal obstruction and nasolacrimal duct obstruction. Finally, preventive measures and early therapeutic interventions that can be applied potentially to eliminate or alleviate long-term radioiodine adverse effects will be discussed.

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Patricia Borges de Souza and Christopher John McCabe

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Livia Lamartina, Nadège Anizan, Corinne Dupuy, Sophie Leboulleux, and Martin Schlumberger

Based on experimental data, the inhibition of the MAPkinase pathway in patients with radioiodine-refractory thyroid cancer was capable of inducing a redifferentiation. Preliminary data obtained in a small series of patients were encouraging and this strategy might become an alternative treatment in those patients with a druggable mutation that induces a stimulation of the MAP kinase pathway. This is an active field of research to answer many still unresolved questions.

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C Spitzweg, P J Nelson, E Wagner, P Bartenstein, W A Weber, M Schwaiger, and J C Morris

Cloning of the sodium iodide symporter (NIS) 25 years ago has opened an exciting chapter in molecular thyroidology with the characterization of NIS as one of the most powerful theranostic genes and the development of a promising gene therapy strategy based on image-guided selective NIS gene transfer in non-thyroidal tumors followed by application of 131I or alternative radionuclides, such as 188Re and 211At. Over the past two decades, significant progress has been made in the development of the NIS gene therapy concept, from local NIS gene delivery towards promising new applications in disseminated disease, in particular through the use of oncolytic viruses, non-viral polyplexes, and genetically engineered MSCs as highly effective, highly selective and flexible gene delivery vehicles. In addition to allowing the robust therapeutic application of radioiodine in non-thyroid cancer settings, these studies have also been able to take advantage of NIS as a sensitive reporter gene that allows temporal and spatial monitoring of vector biodistribution, replication, and elimination – critically important issues for preclinical development and clinical translation.

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Sarah E Mayson, Christine M Chan, and Bryan R Haugen

The treatment of differentiated thyroid cancer continues to move away from a ‘one size fits all’ approach to a process of tailored therapeutic decision-making that incorporates disease-specific factors and individual patient preferences. Management options range from active surveillance to thyroid lobectomy to total thyroidectomy with or without the use of postoperative radioactive iodine (RAI). RAI may be administered for one or more reasons: Thyroid remnant ablation, adjuvant therapy, or therapy for persistent structural disease. It is important to be cognizant of the therapeutic intent of RAI and weigh the risks and benefits of treatment for each individual patient. Risk stratification should be used to identify those patients who are most likely to benefit from RAI and guide therapeutic choices. Available data suggest that RAI can be safely deferred for most patients considered at low risk for structural recurrence, while adjuvant RAI is associated with improved disease-free survival in patients with higher-risk disease. Although progress has been made, many areas of uncertainty related to the use of RAI remain. These include: (1) The appropriate selection of intermediate-risk patients to receive adjuvant RAI, (2) the superiority or inferiority of different RAI dosing activities, (3) the optimal approach to the use of RAI in special populations, including patients with end-stage renal disease and children, and (4) the management of patients with RAI-refractory disease.

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Nikita Pozdeyev, Lauren Fishbein, Laurie M Gay, Ethan S Sokol, Ryan Hartmaier, Jeffrey S Ross, Sourat Darabi, Michael J Demeure, Adwitiya Kar, Lindsey J Foust, Katrina Koc, Daniel W Bowles, Stephen Leong, Margaret E Wierman, and Katja Kiseljak-Vassiliades

Despite recent advances in elucidating molecular pathways underlying adrenocortical carcinoma (ACC), this orphan malignancy is associated with poor survival. Identification of targetable genomic alterations is critical to improve outcomes. The objective of this study was to characterize the genomic profile of a large cohort of patient ACC samples to identify actionable genomic alterations. Three hundred sixty-four individual patient ACC tumors were analyzed. The median age of the cohort was 52 years and 60.9% (n = 222) were female. ACC samples had common alterations in epigenetic pathways with 38% of tumors carrying alterations in genes involved in histone modification, 21% in telomere lengthening, and 21% in SWI/SNF complex. Tumor suppressor genes and WNT signaling pathway were each mutated in 51% of tumors. Fifty (13.7%) ACC tumors had a genomic alteration in genes involved in the DNA mismatch repair (MMR) pathway with many tumors also displaying an unusually high number of mutations and a corresponding MMR mutation signature. In addition, genomic alterations in several genes not previously associated with ACC were observed, including IL7R, LRP1B, FRS2 mutated in 6, 8 and 4% of tumors, respectively. In total, 58.5% of ACC (n = 213) had at least one potentially actionable genomic alteration in 46 different genes. As more than half of ACC have one or more potentially actionable genomic alterations, this highlights the value of targeted sequencing for this orphan cancer with a poor prognosis. In addition, significant incidence of MMR gene alterations suggests that immunotherapy is a promising therapeutic for a considerable subset of ACC patients.