Methylation is essential for embryonic development, however aberrant methylation of CpG islands associated with the tumour suppressor genes (TSGs) and leading to gene silencing is found in numerous tumour types. The TSG p16/CDKN2A is involved in the genesis of many tumour types and frequent methylation of the CpG island of the p16/CDKN2A gene is associated with loss of protein expression in pituitary tumours. In addition, CpG sites are mutational hotspots and abnormal methylation patterns have been shown to lead to genetic instability, predisposing to, and preceding allelic loss. Although several studies of pituitary tumours have shown loss of genetic material at known and putative TSGs loci, studies of the retained alleles have revealed infrequent mutation. Equally, for several other TSGs no mechanisms have been described for their reduced expression. Methylation may represent a unifying theme, responsible in some cases for an absence or reduced expression and in other cases predisposing to allelic loss that may or may not encompass a TSG. In several tumour types treatment of tumours or their cognate cell lines with demethylating agents induces expression of previously methylated genes. Using the mouse corticotroph cell line AtT20 as a model system, transfection studies showed restoration of growth control through induction of ectopically expressed p16/CDKN2A. These effects were reversed by prior in vitro methylation of the constructs' CpG sites within the coding region of this gene. Methylation of an otherwise unmethylated CpG island renders a gene transcriptionally incompetent and clinically these genes represent attractive therapeutic targets since the gene is neither lost nor mutated, but may be reactivated. Future studies will no doubt describe more efficacious pharmacological interventions and identify the mechanisms responsible for the abnormal methylation patterns seen in tumours including those of pituitary origin.
W E Farrell, D J Simpson, S J Frost, and R N Clayton
Michael Solarski, Fabio Rotondo, William D Foulkes, John R Priest, Luis V Syro, Henriett Butz, Michael D Cusimano, and Kalman Kovacs
In this review, the importance of the DICER1 gene in the function of endocrine cells is discussed. There is conclusive evidence that DICER1 mutations play a crucial role in the development, progression, cell proliferation, therapeutic responsiveness and behavior of several endocrine tumors. We review the literature of DICER1 gene mutations in thyroid, parathyroid, pituitary, pineal gland, endocrine pancreas, paragangliomas, medullary, adrenocortical, ovarian and testicular tumors. Although significant progress has been made during the last few years, much more work is needed to fully understand the significance of DICER1 mutations.
Wassim Chemaitilly and Charles A Sklar
Endocrine disturbances are among the most frequently reported complications in childhood cancer survivors, affecting between 20 and 50% of individuals who survive into adulthood. Most endocrine complications are the result of prior cancer treatments, especially radiotherapy. The objective of the present review is to discuss the main endocrine complications observed in this population, including disorders of the hypothalamic–pituitary axis, disorders of pubertal development, thyroid dysfunction, gonadal dysfunction, decreased bone mineral density, obesity, and alterations in glucose metabolism with a special focus on recent findings reported from the Childhood Cancer Survivor Study.
Didier Marot, Ivan Bieche, Chantal Aumas, Stéphanie Esselin, Céline Bouquet, Sophie Vacher, Gwendal Lazennec, Michel Perricaudet, Frederique Kuttenn, Rosette Lidereau, and Nicolas de Roux
KiSS1 is a putative metastasis suppressor gene in melanoma and breast cancer-encoding kisspeptins, which are also described as neuroendocrine regulators of the gonadotropic axis. Negative as well as positive regulation of KiSS1 gene expression by estradiol (E2) has been reported in the hypothalamus. Estrogen receptor α (ERα level is recognized as a marker of breast cancer, raising the question of whether expression of KiSS1 and its G-protein-coupled receptor (GPR54) is down- or upregulated by estrogens in breast cancer cells. KiSS1 was found to be expressed in MDA-MB-231, MCF7, and T47D cell lines, but not in ZR75-1, L56Br, and MDA-MB-435 cells. KiSS1 mRNA levels decreased significantly in ERα-negative MDA-MB-231 cells expressing recombinant ERα. In contrast, tamoxifen (TAM) treatment of ERα-positive MCF7 and T47D cells increased KiSS1 and GPR54 levels. The clinical relevance of this negative regulation of KiSS1 and GPR54 by E2 was then studied in postmenopausal breast cancers. KiSS1 mRNA increased with the grade of the breast tumors. ERα-positive invasive primary tumors expressed sevenfold lower KiSS1 levels than ERα-negative tumors. Among ERα-positive breast tumors from postmenopausal women treated with TAM, high KiSS1 combined with high GPR54 mRNA tumoral levels was unexpectedly associated with shorter relapse-free survival (RFS) relative to tumors expressing low tumoral mRNA levels of both genes. The contradictory observation of putative metastasis inhibitor role of kisspeptins and RFS to TAM treatment suggests that evaluation of KiSS1 and its receptor tumoral mRNA levels could be new interesting markers of the tumoral resistance to anti-estrogen treatment.
Anna Angelousi, Georgios K Dimitriadis, Georgios Zografos, Svenja Nölting, Gregory Kaltsas, and Ashley Grossman
Tumourigenesis is a relatively common event in endocrine tissues. Currently, specific guidelines have been developed for common malignant endocrine tumours, which also incorporate advances in molecular targeted therapies (MTT), as in thyroid cancer and in gastrointestinal neuroendocrine malignancies. However, there is little information regarding the role and efficacy of MTT in the relatively rare malignant endocrine tumours mainly involving the adrenal medulla, adrenal cortex, pituitary, and parathyroid glands. Due to the rarity of these tumours and the lack of prospective studies, current guidelines are mostly based on retrospective data derived from surgical, locoregional and ablative therapies, and studies with systemic chemotherapy. In addition, in many of these malignancies the prognosis remains poor with individual patients responding differently to currently available treatments, necessitating the development of new personalised therapeutic strategies. Recently, major advances in the molecular understanding of endocrine tumours based on genomic, epigenomic, and transcriptome analysis have emerged, resulting in new insights into their pathogenesis and molecular pathology. This in turn has led to the use of novel MTTs in increasing numbers of patients. In this review, we aim to present currently existing and evolving data using MTT in the treatment of adrenal, pituitary and malignant parathyroid tumours, and explore the current utility and effectiveness of such therapies and their future evolution.
Cuiqi Zhou, Yunguang Tong, Kolja Wawrowsky, Serguei Bannykh, Ines Donangelo, and Shlomo Melmed
As human pituitary tumor transforming gene (hPTTG1) is upregulated in endocrine tumors, we studied regulatory mechanisms for hPTTG1 expression. We identified Oct-1-binding motifs in the hPTTG1 promoter region and show Oct-1-specific binding to the hPTTG1 promoter using chromatin immunoprecipitation. We overexpressed Oct-1 and observed ∼2.5-fold activation of hPTTG1 promoter luciferase constructs (−2642/−1 and −1717/−1). Transcriptional activation was abrogated by co-transfection of an inactive Oct-1 form lacking the POU domain or by utilizing mutated hPTTG1 promoters or mutants devoid of two Oct-1-binding motifs (−1717/−1mut, −637/−1 or −433/−1). Using biotin–streptavidin pull-down assays, we confirmed Oct-1 binding to the two octamer motifs in the hPTTG1 promoter (−1669/−1631 and −1401/−1361). Endogenous hPTTG1 mRNA and protein increased up to approximately fourfold in Oct-1 transfectants, as measured by real-time PCR and western blot. In contrast, siRNA-mediated suppression of endogenous Oct-1 attenuated both the hPTTG1 mRNA and protein levels. Using confocal immunofluorescence imaging, Oct-1 and hPTTG1 were concordantly upregulated in pituitary (57 and 62%, n=79, P<0.01) and breast tumor specimens (57 and 42%, n=77, P<0.05) respectively. The results show that Oct-1 transactivates hPTTG1, and both proteins are concordantly overexpressed in endocrine tumors, thus offering a mechanism for endocrine tumor hPTTG1 abundance.
Dorota Dworakowska and Ashley B Grossman
Tuberous sclerosis complex (TSC) is an autosomal dominant multisystem disorder characterised by the development of multiple hamartomas in numerous organs. It is caused by mutations of two tumour suppressor genes, TSC1 on chromosome 9q34 and TSC2 on chromosome 16p13.3, which encode for hamartin and tuberin respectively. The interaction between these two proteins, the tuberin–hamartin complex, has been shown to be critical to multiple intracellular signalling pathways, especially those controlling cell growth and proliferation. TSC may affect skin, central nervous system, kidneys, heart, eyes, blood vessels, lung, bone and gastrointestinal tract. Small series and case reports have documented that in tuberous sclerosis patients many endocrine system alterations might occur, affecting the function of the pituitary, parathyroid and other neuroendocrine tissue. There have been scattered reports of the involvement of such tissue in the pathological process of TSC, but no systematic review as to whether this is a true association. We have therefore systematically assessed all available published literature in this area. We conclude that there may be an association with pituitary and parathyroid tumours, and two recent descriptions of Cushing's disease are especially intriguing. However, the evidence seems more firm in the case of islet cell tumours, particularly insulinomas. As these latter may cause changes in mental state that may be confused with the cerebral manifestations of TSC per se, it is particularly important for physicians working with these patients to be aware of the putative and indeed likely association.
Sara Molatore, Andrea Kügler, Martin Irmler, Tobias Wiedemann, Frauke Neff, Annette Feuchtinger, Johannes Beckers, Mercedes Robledo, Federico Roncaroli, and Natalia S Pellegata
Rats affected by the MENX syndrome spontaneously develop multiple neuroendocrine tumors (NETs) including adrenal, pituitary and thyroid gland neoplasms. MENX was initially reported to be inherited as a recessive trait and affected rats were found to be homozygous for the predisposing Cdkn1b mutation encoding p27. We here report that heterozygous MENX-mutant rats (p27+/mut) develop the same spectrum of NETs seen in the homozygous (p27mut/mut) animals but with slower progression. Consequently, p27+/mut rats have a significantly shorter lifespan compared with their wild-type (p27+/+) littermates. In the tumors of p27+/mut rats, the wild-type Cdkn1b allele is neither lost nor silenced, implying that p27 is haploinsufficient for tumor suppression in this model. Transcriptome profiling of rat adrenal (pheochromocytoma) and pituitary tumors having different p27 dosages revealed a tissue-specific, dose-dependent effect of p27 on gene expression. In p27+/mut rats, thyroid neoplasms progress to invasive and metastatic medullary thyroid carcinomas (MTCs) accompanied by increased calcitonin levels, as in humans. Comparison of expression signatures of late-stage vs early-stage MTCs from p27+/mut rats identified genes potentially involved in tumor aggressiveness. The expression of a subset of these genes was evaluated in human MTCs and found to be associated with aggressive RET-M918T-positive tumors. Altogether, p27 haploinsufficiency in MENX rats uncovered a novel, representative model of invasive and metastatic MTC exploitable for translational studies of this often aggressive and incurable cancer.
H K Gleeson and S M Shalet
Survival rates are improving following cancer therapy for childhood brain tumours. There is therefore a growing cohort of survivors at risk of late effects of cancer therapy. Endocrine problems are very common in these patients. The recognition and prompt management of these are essential to prevent further morbidity and impairment of quality of life.
Cranial radiation can damage hypothalamic–pituitary function, most frequently affecting GH status; however, higher radiation doses may cause more widespread hypothalamic–pituitary damage. Early puberty secondary to cranial irradiation is now being managed with gonadotrophin-releasing hormone analogues to improve final height. Prompt diagnosis and management of GH deficiency may improve final height outcome; continued GH therapy beyond final height aids the achievement of adult body composition (lean body mass and bone mass) and GH therapy in adulthood improves quality of life. Both cranial irradiation alone and with spinal irradiation can result in radiation damage to the thyroid resulting in hypothyroidism and thyroid nodules, a high proportion of which are malignant. Gonadal damage secondary to spinal irradiation and adjuvant chemotherapy may have long-term consequences including infertility.
R Formosa, A Xuereb-Anastasi, and J Vassallo
Mutations in the aryl hydrocarbon receptor-interacting protein (AIP) gene have been linked to predisposition to pituitary adenomas. However, the mechanism by which this occurs remains unknown. AIP interacts with a number of interesting proteins, including members of the cAMP signalling pathway that has been shown to be consistently altered in pituitary tumours. The functional role of Aip was investigated using both over-expression and knock down of Aip in GH3 cells. cAMP signalling and its downstream effectors, including GH secretion, were then investigated. cAMP signalling was analysed using cAMP assays, cAMP-response element-promoter luciferase reporter assays, real-time PCR and finally secreted GH quantification. Over-expression of wild-type (WT)-Aip reduced forskolin-induced cAMP signalling at the total cAMP level, luciferase reporter activity and target gene expression, when compared with empty vector and the non-functional R304X mutant. Additionally, GH secretion was reduced in WT-Aip over-expressing GH3 cells treated with forskolin. Knock down of endogenous Aip resulted in increased cAMP signalling but a decrease in GH secretion was also noted. Inhibition of phosphodiesterase activity using general and selective inhibitors did not completely ablate the effect of Aip on forskolin-augmented cAMP signalling. A mechanism by which Aip acts as a tumour suppressor, by maintaining a low cAMP signalling and concentration, is suggested. Mutations of Aip render the protein incapable of such activity. This effect appears not to be mediated by the AIP–PDE interaction, suggesting the involvement of other interacting partners in mediating this outcome.