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Free access

Xiao-Hua Jiang, Jie-Li Lu, Bin Cui, Yong-Ju Zhao, Wei-qing Wang, Jian-Min Liu, Wen-Qiang Fang, Ya-Nan Cao, Yan Ge, Chang-xian Zhang, Huguette Casse, Xiao-Ying Li, and Guang Ning

Multiple endocrine neoplasia type 1 (MEN1) is an inherited tumour syndrome characterized by the development of tumours of the parathyroid, anterior pituitary and pancreatic islets, etc. Heterozygous germ line mutations of MEN1 gene are responsible for the onset of MEN1. We investigated the probands and 31 family members from eight unrelated Chinese families associated with MEN1 and identified four novel mutations, namely 373_374ins18, 822delT, 259delT and 1092delC, as well as three previously reported mutations, such as 357_360delCTGT, 427_428delTA and R108X (CGA>TGA) of MEN1 gene. Furthermore, we detected a loss of heterozygosity (LOH) at chromosome 11q in the removed tumours, including gastrinoma, insulinoma and parathyroid adenoma from two probands of MEN1 families. RT-PCR and direct sequencing showed that mutant MEN1 transcripts remained in the MEN1-associated endocrine tumours, whereas normal menin proteins could not be detected in those tumours by either immunohistochemistry or immunoblotting. In conclusion, MEN1 heterozygous mutations are associated with LOH and menin absence, which are present in MEN1-associated endocrine tumours.

Free access

Kerong Shi, Vaishali I Parekh, Swarnava Roy, Shruti S Desai, and Sunita K Agarwal

The multiple endocrine neoplasia type 1 (MEN1) syndrome is caused by germline mutations in the MEN1 gene encoding menin, with tissue-specific tumors of the parathyroids, anterior pituitary, and enteropancreatic endocrine tissues. Also, 30–40% of sporadic pancreatic endocrine tumors show somatic MEN1 gene inactivation. Although menin is expressed in all cell types of the pancreas, mouse models with loss of menin in either pancreatic α-cells, or β-cells, or total pancreas develop β-cell-specific endocrine tumors (insulinomas). Loss of widely expressed tumor suppressor genes may produce tissue-specific tumors by reactivating one or more embryonic-specific differentiation factors. Therefore, we determined the effect of menin overexpression or knockdown on the expression of β-cell differentiation factors in a mouse β-cell line (MIN6). We show that the β-cell differentiation factor Hlxb9 is posttranscriptionally upregulated upon menin knockdown, and it interacts with menin. Hlxb9 reduces cell proliferation and causes apoptosis in the presence of menin, and it regulates genes that modulate insulin level. Thus, upon menin loss or from other causes, dysregulation of Hlxb9 predicts a possible combined mechanism for β-cell proliferation and insulin production in insulinomas. These observations help to understand how a ubiquitously expressed protein such as menin might control tissue-specific tumorigenesis. Also, our findings identify Hlxb9 as an important factor for β-cell proliferation and insulin regulation.

Free access

D M Robertson, H G Burger, and P J Fuller

Inhibin and activin are members of the transforming growth factor beta (TGFbeta) family of cytokines produced by the gonads, with a recognised role in regulating pituitary FSH secretion. Inhibin consists of two homologous subunits, alpha and either betaA or betaB (inhibin A and B). Activins are hetero- or homodimers of the beta-subunits. Inhibin and free alpha subunit are known products of two ovarian tumours (granulosa cell tumours and mucinous carcinomas). This observation has provided the basis for the development of a serum diagnostic test to monitor the occurrence and treatment of these cancers. Transgenic mice with an inhibin alpha subunit gene deletion develop stromal/granulosa cell tumours suggesting that the alpha subunit is a tumour suppressor gene. The role of inhibin and activin is reviewed in ovarian cancer both as a measure of proven clinical utility in diagnosis and management and also as a factor in the pathogenesis of these tumours. In order to place these findings into perspective the biology of inhibin/activin and of other members of the TGFbeta superfamily is also discussed.

Open access

G Carreno, J K R Boult, J Apps, J M Gonzalez-Meljem, S Haston, R Guiho, C Stache, L S Danielson, A Koers, L M Smith, A Virasami, L Panousopoulos, M Buchfelder, T S Jacques, L Chesler, S P Robinson, and J P Martinez-Barbera

Pharmacological inhibition of the sonic hedgehog (SHH) pathway can be beneficial against certain cancers but detrimental in others. Adamantinomatous craniopharyngioma (ACP) is a relevant pituitary tumour, affecting children and adults, that is associated with high morbidity and increased mortality in long-term follow-up. We have previously demonstrated overactivation of the SHH pathway in both human and mouse ACP. Here, we show that this activation is ligand dependent and induced by the expression of SHH protein in a small proportion of tumour cells. We investigate the functional relevance of SHH signalling in ACP through MRI-guided preclinical studies using an ACP mouse model. Treatment with vismodegib, a clinically approved SHH pathway inhibitor, results in a significant reduction in median survival due to premature development of highly proliferative and vascularised undifferentiated tumours. Reinforcing the mouse data, SHH pathway inhibition in human ACP leads to a significant increase in tumour cell proliferation both ex vivo, in explant cultures, and in vivo, in a patient-derived xenograft model. Together, our results demonstrate a protumourigenic effect of vismodegib-mediated SHH pathway inhibition in ACP.

Free access

A Falchetti and M L Brandi

Multiple Endocrine Neoplasias type 1 (MEN 1) and type 2 (MEN 2) represent complex inherited (autosomal dominant traits) syndromes characterized by occurrence of distinct proliferative disorders of endocrine tissues, varying from hyperplasia to adenoma and carcinoma.

MEN 1 syndrome is characterized by parathyroid gland, anterior pituitary and endocrine pancreas tumors. Other endocrine and non endocrine tumors, such as carcinoids, lipomas, pinealomas, adrenocortical and thyroid follicular tumors, have been also described in MEN 1 patients occurring at higher frequency than in general population (Brandi ML et al. 1987). Recently also a spinal ependymoma has been found in a patient with MEN 1 syndrome (Kato H et al 1997)

MEN 2 syndromes recognize three main clinical entities, MEN 2A, characterized by medullary thyroid carcinoma (MTC), primary hyperparathyroidism (PHPT) and pheochromocytoma (PHEO); MEN 2B that exhibits MTC, usually developing sooner than the MEN 2A- associated one, pheochromocytoma, multiple neuromas of gastroenteric mucosa, myelinated corneal nerves (Gorlin RJ et al. 1968) and a typical marphanoid habitus; and familial medullary thyroid carcinoma only (FMTC) featuring by families with at least four members with MTC and no objective evidence of pheochromocytoma and parathyroid disease on screening of affected and at-risk members, as stated by the International RET Mutation Consortium (Larsson C et al. 1994).


This work was supported by grants of the Associazione Italiana per la Ricerca sul Cancro (to MLB), from CNR/PF ACRO (INV. 95.00316 PF 39) and by MURST 60% (to MLB).

Free access

Pedro Marques, Sayka Barry, Eivind Carlsen, David Collier, Amy Ronaldson, Sherine Awad, Neil Dorward, Joan Grieve, Nigel Mendoza, Samiul Muquit, Ashley B Grossman, Frances Balkwill, and Márta Korbonits

Tumour-associated fibroblasts (TAFs) are key elements of the tumour microenvironment, but their role in pituitary neuroendocrine tumours (PitNETs) has been little explored. We hypothesised that TAF-derived cytokines may play a role in tumour aggressiveness and that their release can be inhibited by somatostatin analogues. TAFs were isolated and cultured from 16 PitNETs (11 clinically non-functioning tumours and 5 somatotropinomas). The fibroblast secretome was assessed with a 42-plex cytokine array before and after multiligand somatostatin receptor agonist pasireotide treatment. Angiogenesis and epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition pathway assessment included CD31, E-cadherin and ZEB1 expression. GH3 cells treated with TAF- or skin fibroblast-conditioned medium were assessed for migration, invasion and cell morphology changes. PitNET TAFs secreted significant amounts of cytokines including CCL2, CCL11, VEGF-A, CCL22, IL-6, FGF-2 and IL-8. TAFs from PitNETs with cavernous sinus invasion secreted higher IL-6 levels compared to fibroblasts from non-invasive tumours (P = 0.027). Higher CCL2 release from TAFs correlated with more capillaries (r = 0.672, P = 0.004), and TAFs from PitNETs with a higher Ki-67 tended to secrete more CCL2 (P = 0.058). SST1 is the predominant somatostatin receptor in TAFs, and pasireotide decreased TAF-derived IL-6 by 80% (P < 0.001) and CCL2 by 35% (P = 0.038). GH3 cells treated with TAF-conditioned medium showed increased migration and invasion compared to cells treated with skin fibroblast-conditioned medium, with morphological and E-cadherin and ZEB1 expression changes suggesting epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition. TAF-derived cytokines may increase PitNET aggressiveness, alter angiogenesis and induce epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition changes. Pasireotide’s inhibitory effect on TAF-derived cytokines suggest that this effect may play a role in its anti-tumour effects.

Open access

W Imruetaicharoenchoke, A Fletcher, W Lu, R J Watkins, B Modasia, V L Poole, H R Nieto, R J Thompson, K Boelaert, M L Read, V E Smith, and C J McCabe

Pituitary tumor-transforming gene 1-binding factor (PTTG1IP; PBF) is a multifunctional glycoprotein, which is overexpressed in a wide range of tumours, and significantly associated with poorer oncological outcomes, such as early tumour recurrence, distant metastasis, extramural vascular invasion and decreased disease-specific survival. PBF transforms NIH 3T3 fibroblasts and induces tumours in nude mice, while mice harbouring transgenic thyroidal PBF expression show hyperplasia and macrofollicular lesions. Our assumption that PBF becomes an oncogene purely through increased expression has been challenged by the recent report of mutations in PBF within the Catalogue of Somatic Mutations in Cancer (COSMIC) database. We therefore sought to determine whether the first 10 PBF missense substitutions in human cancer might be oncogenic. Anisomycin half-life studies revealed that most mutations were associated with reduced protein stability compared to wild-type (WT) PBF. Proliferation assays narrowed our interest to two mutational events which significantly altered cell turnover: C51R and R140W. C51R was mainly confined to the endoplasmic reticulum while R140W was apparent in the Golgi apparatus. Both C51R and R140W lost the capacity to induce cellular migration and significantly reduced cell invasion. Colony formation and soft agar assays demonstrated that, in contrast to WT PBF, both mutants were unable to elicit significant colony formation or anchorage-independent growth. However, C51R and R140W retained the ability to repress radioiodide uptake, a functional hallmark of PBF. Our data reveal new insight into PBF function and confirm that, rather than being oncogenic, mutations in PBF are likely to be passenger effects, with overexpression of PBF the more important aetiological event in human cancer.

Free access

Tullio Florio, Federica Barbieri, Renato Spaziante, Gianluigi Zona, Leo J Hofland, Peter M van Koetsveld, Richard A Feelders, Günter K Stalla, Marily Theodoropoulou, Michael D Culler, Jesse Dong, John E Taylor, Jacques-Pierre Moreau, Alexandru Saveanu, Ginette Gunz, Henry Dufour, and Philippe Jaquet

Dopamine D2 and somatostatin receptors (sstrs) were reported to affect non-functioning pituitary adenoma (NFPA) proliferation in vitro. However, the reported results differ according to the experimental conditions used. We established an experimental protocol allowing reproducible evaluation of NFPA cell proliferation in vitro, to test and compare the antiproliferative effects of dopamine and somatostatin analogs (alone or in combination) with the activity of the dopamine–somatostatin chimeric molecule BIM-23A760. The protocol was utilized by four independent laboratories, studying 38 fibroblast-deprived NFPA cell cultures. Cells were characterized for GH, POMC, sstr1–sstr5, total dopamine D2 receptor (D2R) (in all cases), and D2 receptor long and short isoforms (in 15 out of 38 cases) mRNA expression and for α-subunit, LH, and FSH release. D2R, sstr3, and sstr2 mRNAs were consistently observed, with the dominant expression of D2R (2.9±2.6 copy/copy β-glucuronidase; mean±s.e.m.), when compared with sstr3 and sstr2 (0.6±1.0 and 0.3±0.6 respectively). BIM-23A760, a molecule with high affinity for D2R and sstr2, significantly inhibited [3H]thymidine incorporation in 23 out of 38 (60%) NFPA cultures (EC50=1.2 pM and E max=−33.6±3.7%). BIM-23A760 effects were similar to those induced by the selective D2R agonist cabergoline that showed a statistically significant inhibition in 18 out of 27 tumors (compared with a significant inhibition obtained in 17 out of 27 tumors using BIM-23A760, in the same subgroup of adenomas analyzed), while octreotide was effective in 13 out of 27 cases. In conclusion, superimposable data generated in four independent laboratories using a standardized protocol demonstrate that, in vitro, chimeric dopamine/sstr agonists are effective in inhibiting cell proliferation in two-thirds of NFPAs.

Free access

Françoise Galland, Ludovic Lacroix, Patrick Saulnier, Philippe Dessen, Geri Meduri, Michèle Bernier, Stéphane Gaillard, Jean Guibourdenche, Thierry Fournier, Danièle Evain-Brion, Jean Michel Bidart, and Philippe Chanson

Non-functioning pituitary adenomas (NFPAs) may be locally invasive. Markers of invasiveness are needed to guide patient management and particularly the use of adjuvant radiotherapy. To examine whether invasive NFPAs display a specific gene expression profile relative to non-invasive tumors, we selected 40 NFPAs (38 of the gonadotroph type) and classified them as invasive (n=22) or non-invasive (n=18) on the basis of magnetic resonance imaging and surgical findings. We then performed pangenomic analysis with the 44k Agilent human whole genome expression oligonucleotide microarray in order to identify genes with differential expression between invasive and non-invasive NFPAs. Candidate genes were then tested in qRT-PCR. Prediction class analysis showed that the expression of 346 genes differed between invasive and non-invasive NFPAs (P<0.001), of which 233 genes were up-regulated and 113 genes were down-regulated in invasive tumors. On the basis of Ingenuity networks and the degree of up- or down-regulation in invasive versus non-invasive tumors, 35 genes were selected for expression quantification by qRT-PCR. Overexpression of only four genes was confirmed, namely IGFBP5 (P=0.02), MYO5A (P=0.04), FLT3 (P=0.01), and NFE2L1 (P=0.02). At the protein level, only myosin 5A (MYO5A) immunostaining was stronger in invasive than in non-invasive NFPAs. Molecular signature allows to differentiate ‘grossly’ invasive from non-invasive NFPAs. The product of one of these genes, MYO5A, may be a useful marker of tumor invasiveness.

Free access

Shoucheng Ning, Susan J Knox, Griffith R Harsh, Michael D Culler, and Laurence Katznelson

Somatostatin analogs are a mainstay of medical therapy in patients with GH producing human pituitary tumors, and it has been suggested that somatostatin analogs may be radioprotective. We utilized GH secreting rat GH3 cells to investigate whether a somatostatin analog may limit the effects of radiation on proliferation and apoptosis in vitro and on tumor growth in vivo. Treatment with lanreotide alone at doses of either 100 or 1000 nM for 48 h reduced clonogenic survival by 5–10%. Radiation alone produced a dose-dependent survival curve with a SF2 of 48–55%, and lanreotide had no effect on this curve. The addition of lanreotide resulted in a 23% increase in the proportion of apoptotic sub-G1 cells following irradiation (P<0.01). In a mouse GH3 tumor xenograft model, lanreotide 10 mg/kg moderately inhibited the growth of GH3 tumors, with a 4× tumor growth delay (TGD) time that ranged from 4.5 to 8.3 days. Fractionated local tumor radiation alone significantly inhibited tumor growth and produced a TGD of 35.1±5.7 days for 250 cGy fractions. The combination of lanreotide, either antecedent to or concurrent, with radiation of 250, 200 or 150 cGy/fraction for 5 days inhibited tumor growth and produced the TGD times that were similar to radiation alone (P>0.05). Pretreatment with lanreotide had the most significant radiosensitizing effect. These studies demonstrate that the somatostatin analog lanreotide is not radioprotective in GH3 cells, and further studies are necessary to determine the impact of lanreotide on apoptosis.