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Open access

Johan O Paulsson, Na Wang, Jiwei Gao, Adam Stenman, Jan Zedenius, Ninni Mu, Weng-Onn Lui, Catharina Larsson, and C Christofer Juhlin

Mutations in the miRNA enzyme gene DICER1 have been reported in several endocrine malignancies and is associated with the rare tumour-predisposing DICER1 syndrome. DICER1 mutations have been reported in subsets of follicular thyroid carcinoma (FTC), but the role of DICER1 in follicular thyroid tumorigenesis has not been extensively studied. In this study, we investigate the role of DICER1 in 168 follicular thyroid tumours and in an FTC cell line. We found rare DICER1 mutations in paediatric FTC cases and a general DICER1 down-regulation in FTCs visualized both on mRNA and protein level, especially pronounced in Hürthle cell carcinoma (HuCC). The down-regulation was also evident in follicular thyroid adenomas (FTAs), suggesting a potential early step in tumorigenesis. The expression of DICER1 was lower in FTCs of older patients in which TERT promoter mutations are more frequent. In FTCs, DICER1 down-regulation was not caused by gene copy number loss but significantly correlated to expression of the transcription factor GABPA in clinical cases. GABPA was found to bind to the DICER1 promoter and regulate DICER1 expression in vitro, as GABPA depletion in FTC cell lines reduced DICER1 expression. This in turn stimulated cell proliferation and affected the miRNA machinery, evident by altered miRNA expression. To conclude, we show that GABPA directly regulates DICER1 in FTC, acting as a tumour suppressor and displaying down-regulation in clinical samples. We also show reduced expression of DICER1 in benign and malignant follicular thyroid tumours, suggesting a potentially early tumorigenic role of this gene aberrancy.

Open access

Pei-Pei Xu, Su Zeng, Xiao-Tian Xia, Zi-Heng Ye, Mei-Fang Li, Ming-Yun Chen, Tian Xia, Jing-Jing Xu, Qiong Jiao, Liang Liu, Lian-Xi Li, and Ming-Gao Guo

Our aims were to uncover the role of FAM172A (Family with sequence similarity 172 member A) in the pathogenesis of follicular thyroid carcinoma (FTC) and to evaluate its value in the differential diagnosis between malignant and benign thyroid follicular lesions. FAM172A expression was evaluated by q-PCR, immunoblotting and immunohistochemistry (IHC). The ability of proliferation, migration and invasion of cells were assessed by Cell Counting Kit-8 assay (CCK8), clone-formation and Transwell assays. Nude mouse tumorigenicity assays were used to investigate the role of FAM172A in the pathogenesis of FTC in vivo. The value of FAM172A in the differential diagnosis for FTC was assessed using 120 formalin-fixed paraffin-embedded (FFPE) tissues after the operation and 81 fine-needle aspiration biopsy (FNAB) samples before the operation. FAM172A was highly expressed in FTC tissues and FTC cell lines. Downregulation of FAM172A inhibited the proliferation, invasion and migration of FTC cells through Erk1/2 and JNK pathways. Subcutaneous tumorigenesis in nude mice showed that knockdown of FAM172A inhibited tumor growth and progression in vivo. The FAM172A IHC scores of 3.5 had 92% sensitivity and 63% specificity to separate FTC from benign/borderline thyroid follicular lesions, and 92% sensitivity and 80% specificity to discriminate FTC from benign thyroid follicular lesions in postoperative FFPE samples. The corresponding values were 75 and 78%, and 75 and 89% in preoperative FNA samples, respectively. FAM172A plays an important role in the pathogenesis of FTC through Erk1/2 and JNK pathways. FAM172A may be a potential marker for the preoperative diagnosis of FTC based on the IHC results of thyroid FNAB samples.

Open access

Marc Sinotte, François Rousseau, Pierre Ayotte, Eric Dewailly, Caroline Diorio, Yves Giguère, Sylvie Bérubé, and Jacques Brisson

Vitamin D has been associated with reduced breast cancer risk. We studied the association of two vitamin D receptor (VDR) gene single nucleotide polymorphisms restriction enzyme detecting SNP of VDR (FokI and BsmI) with breast cancer risk in two independent case–control studies carried out in the same population. The modifying effect of family history of breast cancer on this relationship was also evaluated. The first and second studies included respectively 718 (255 cases/463 controls) and 1596 (622 cases/974 controls) women recruited in Quebec City, Canada. FokI and BsmI genotypes were assessed. Relative risks of breast cancer were estimated by multivariate logistic regression. Compared with homozygotes for the common F allele (FF genotype), FokI ff homozygotes had a higher breast cancer risk (study 1: odds ratio (OR)=1.22, 95% confidence interval (CI)=0.76–1.95; study 2: OR=1.44, 95% CI=1.05–1.99; and combined studies: OR=1.33, 95% CI=1.03–1.73). Significant interactions were observed between FokI and family history of breast cancer in the two studies as well as in the combined analysis (P interaction=0.031, 0.050 and 0.0059 respectively). Among women without family history, odds ratios were 1.00, 1.27 (95% CI=1.02–1.58) and 1.57 (95% CI=1.18–2.10) respectively for FF, Ff and ff carriers (P trend=0.0013). BsmI Bb+bb genotypes were associated with a weak non-significant increased risk in the two studies (combined OR=1.22, 95% CI=0.95–1.57) without interaction with family history. Results support the idea that vitamin D, through its signalling pathway, can affect breast cancer risk. They also suggest that variability in observed associations between VDR FokI and breast cancer from different studies may partly be explained by the proportion of study subjects with a family history of breast cancer.

Open access

Alicia A Tone, Carl Virtanen, Patricia A Shaw, and Theodore J Brown

We previously reported that BRCA1/2-mutated fallopian tube epithelium (FTE) collected during the luteal phase exhibits gene expression profiles more closely resembling that of high-grade serous carcinoma (HGSC) specimens than FTE collected during the follicular phase or from control patients. Since the luteal phase is characterised by high levels of progesterone, we determined whether the expression of progesterone receptor (PR) and PR-responsive genes was altered in FTE obtained from BRCA mutation carriers during the luteal phase of the menstrual cycle. RT-qPCR confirmed a decreased expression of PR mRNA in FTE during the luteal phase relative to follicular phase, in both BRCA1/2 mutation carriers and control patients. Immunohistochemistry using isoform-specific antibodies confirmed a low level of both PR-A and PR-B in HGSC and a lower level of staining in FTE samples obtained during the luteal phase compared with the follicular phase. No significant difference in PR-A or PR-B staining was found based on patient BRCA mutation status. Analysis of our previously reported gene expression profiles based upon known PR-A- and PR-B-specific target genes did not partition samples by BRCA mutation status, indicating that overall FTE PR response is not altered in BRCA mutation carriers. HGSC samples grouped separately from other samples, consistent with the observed loss of PR expression. These findings indicate no overall difference in PR signalling in FTE as a function of BRCA mutation status. Thus, the molecular similarity of BRCA1/2-mutated luteal phase FTE and HGSC likely results from an altered response to luteal phase factors other than progesterone.

Open access

Catherine Ory, Nicolas Ugolin, Céline Levalois, Ludovic Lacroix, Bernard Caillou, Jean-Michel Bidart, Martin Schlumberger, Ibrahima Diallo, Florent de Vathaire, Paul Hofman, José Santini, Bernard Malfoy, and Sylvie Chevillard

Both external and internal exposure to ionizing radiation are strong risk factors for the development of thyroid tumors. Until now, the diagnosis of radiation-induced thyroid tumors has been deduced from a network of arguments taken together with the individual history of radiation exposure. Neither the histological features nor the genetic alterations observed in these tumors have been shown to be specific fingerprints of an exposure to radiation. The aim of our work is to define ionizing radiation-related molecular specificities in a series of secondary thyroid tumors developed in the radiation field of patients treated by radiotherapy. To identify molecular markers that could represent a radiation-induction signature, we compared 25K microarray transcriptome profiles of a learning set of 28 thyroid tumors, which comprised 14 follicular thyroid adenomas (FTA) and 14 papillary thyroid carcinomas (PTC), either sporadic or consecutive to external radiotherapy in childhood. We identified a signature composed of 322 genes which discriminates radiation-induced tumors (FTA and PTC) from their sporadic counterparts. The robustness of this signature was further confirmed by blind case-by-case classification of an independent set of 29 tumors (16 FTA and 13 PTC). After the histology code break by the clinicians, 26/29 tumors were well classified regarding tumor etiology, 1 was undetermined, and 2 were misclassified. Our results help shed light on radiation-induced thyroid carcinogenesis, since specific molecular pathways are deregulated in radiation-induced tumors.

Open access

Kathleen A Luckett, Jennifer R Cracchiolo, Gnana P Krishnamoorthy, Luis Javier Leandro-Garcia, James Nagarajah, Mahesh Saqcena, Rona Lester, Soo Y Im, Zhen Zhao, Scott W Lowe, Elisa de Stanchina, Eric J Sherman, Alan L Ho, Steven D Leach, Jeffrey A Knauf, and James A Fagin

Constitutive MAPK activation silences genes required for iodide uptake and thyroid hormone biosynthesis in thyroid follicular cells. Accordingly, most BRAFV600E papillary thyroid cancers (PTC) are refractory to radioiodide (RAI) therapy. MAPK pathway inhibitors rescue thyroid-differentiated properties and RAI responsiveness in mice and patient subsets with BRAFV600E-mutant PTC. TGFB1 also impairs thyroid differentiation and has been proposed to mediate the effects of mutant BRAF. We generated a mouse model of BRAFV600E-PTC with thyroid-specific knockout of the Tgfbr1 gene to investigate the role of TGFB1 on thyroid-differentiated gene expression and RAI uptake in vivo. Despite appropriate loss of Tgfbr1, pSMAD levels remained high, indicating that ligands other than TGFB1 were engaging in this pathway. The activin ligand subunits Inhba and Inhbb were found to be overexpressed in BRAFV600E-mutant thyroid cancers. Treatment with follistatin, a potent inhibitor of activin, or vactosertib, which inhibits both TGFBR1 and the activin type I receptor ALK4, induced a profound inhibition of pSMAD in BRAFV600E-PTCs. Blocking SMAD signaling alone was insufficient to enhance iodide uptake in the setting of constitutive MAPK activation. However, combination treatment with either follistatin or vactosertib and the MEK inhibitor CKI increased 124I uptake compared to CKI alone. In summary, activin family ligands converge to induce pSMAD in Braf-mutant PTCs. Dedifferentiation of BRAFV600E-PTCs cannot be ascribed primarily to activation of SMAD. However, targeting TGFβ/activin-induced pSMAD augmented MAPK inhibitor effects on iodine incorporation into BRAF tumor cells, indicating that these two pathways exert interdependent effects on the differentiation state of thyroid cancer cells.

Open access

Ying Ni, Spencer Seballos, Shireen Ganapathi, Danielle Gurin, Benjamin Fletcher, Joanne Ngeow, Rebecca Nagy, Richard T Kloos, Matthew D Ringel, Thomas LaFramboise, and Charis Eng

Along with breast and endometrial cancers, thyroid cancer is a major component cancer in Cowden syndrome (CS). Germline variants in SDHB/C/D (SDHx) genes account for subsets of CS/CS-like cases, conferring a higher risk of breast and thyroid cancers over those with only germline PTEN mutations. To investigate whether SDHx alterations at both germline and somatic levels occur in apparently sporadic breast cancer and differentiated thyroid cancer (DTC), we analyzed SDHx genes in the following four groups: i) 48 individuals with sporadic invasive breast adenocarcinoma for germline mutation; ii) 48 (expanded to 241) DTC for germline mutation; iii) 37 pairs DTC tumor-normal tissues for germline and somatic mutation and mRNA expression levels; and iv) data from 476 patients in the Cancer Genome Atlas thyroid carcinoma dataset for validation. No germline SDHx variant was found in a pilot series of 48 breast cancer cases. As germline SDHx variants were found in our pilot of 48 thyroid cancer cases, we expanded to three series of DTC comprising a total 754 cases, and found 48 (6%) with germline SDHx variants (P<0.001 compared with 0/350 controls). In 513 tumors, we found 27 (5%) with large somatic duplications within chromosome 1 encompassing SDHC. Both papillary and follicular thyroid tumors showed consistent loss of SDHC/D gene expression (P<0.001), which is associated with earlier disease onset and higher pathological-TNM stage. Therefore, we conclude that both germline and somatic SDHx mutations/variants occur in sporadic DTC but are very rare in sporadic breast cancer, and overall loss of SDHx gene expression is a signature of DTC.

Open access

Haojun Luo, Guanglun Yang, Tenghua Yu, Shujuan Luo, Chengyi Wu, Yan Sun, Manran Liu, and Gang Tu

Cancer-associated fibroblasts (CAFs) are crucial co-mediators of breast cancer progression. Estrogen is the predominant driving force in the cyclic regulation of the mammary extracellular matrix, thus potentially affecting the tumor-associated stroma. Recently, a third estrogen receptor, estrogen (G-protein-coupled) receptor (GPER), has been reported to be expressed in breast CAFs. In this study, GPER was detected by immunohistochemical analysis in stromal fibroblasts of 41.8% (59/141) of the primary breast cancer samples. GPER expression in CAFs isolated from primary breast cancer tissues was confirmed by immunostaining and RT-PCR analyses. Tamoxifen (TAM) in addition to 17β-estradiol (E2) and the GPER agonist G1 activated GPER, resulting in transient increases in cell index, intracellular calcium, and ERK1/2 phosphorylation. Furthermore, TAM, E2, and G1 promoted CAF proliferation and cell-cycle progression, both of which were blocked by GPER interference, the selective GPER antagonist G15, the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) inhibitor AG1478, and the ERK1/2 inhibitor U0126. Importantly, TAM as well as G1 increased E2 production in breast CAFs via GPER/EGFR/ERK signaling when the substrate of E2, testosterone, was added to the medium. GPER-induced aromatase upregulation was probably responsible for this phenomenon, as TAM- and G1-induced CYP19A1 gene expression was reduced by GPER knockdown and G15, AG1478, and U0126 administration. Accordingly, GPER-mediated CAF-dependent estrogenic effects on the tumor-associated stroma are conceivable, and CAF is likely to contribute to breast cancer progression, especially TAM resistance, via a positive feedback loop involving GPER/EGFR/ERK signaling and E2 production.

Open access

Luqman Sulaiman, Inga-Lena Nilsson, C Christofer Juhlin, Felix Haglund, Anders Höög, Catharina Larsson, and Jamileh Hashemi

In this study, we genetically characterized parathyroid adenomas with large glandular weights, for which independent observations suggest pronounced clinical manifestations. Large parathyroid adenomas (LPTAs) were defined as the 5% largest sporadic parathyroid adenomas identified among the 590 cases operated in our institution during 2005–2009. The LPTA group showed a higher relative number of male cases and significantly higher levels of total plasma and ionized serum calcium (P<0.001). Further analysis of 21 LPTAs revealed low MIB1 proliferation index (0.1–1.5%), MEN1 mutations in five cases, and one HRPT2 (CDC73) mutation. Total or partial loss of parafibromin expression was observed in ten tumors, two of which also showed loss of APC expression. Using array CGH, we demonstrated recurrent copy number alterations most frequently involving loss in 1p (29%), gain in 5 (38%), and loss in 11q (33%). Totally, 21 minimal overlapping regions were defined for losses in 1p, 7q, 9p, 11, and 15q and gains in 3q, 5, 7p, 8p, 16q, 17p, and 19q. In addition, 12 tumors showed gross alterations of entire or almost entire chromosomes most frequently gain of 5 and loss of chromosome 11. While gain of 5 was the most frequent alteration observed in LPTAs, it was only detected in a small proportion (4/58 cases, 7%) of parathyroid adenomas. A significant positive correlation was observed between parathyroid hormone level and total copy number gain (r=0.48, P=0.031). These results support that LPTAs represent a group of patients with pronounced parathyroid hyperfunction and associated with specific genomic features.