Multiple endocrine neoplasia type 1 (MEN1) is an autosomal dominant syndrome caused by mutations in the MEN1 tumor suppressor gene. Loss of the functional second copy of the MEN1 gene causes individuals to develop multiple endocrine tumors, primarily affecting the parathyroid, pituitary, and pancreas. While it is clear that the protein encoded by MEN1, menin, suppresses endocrine tumors, its biochemical functions and direct downstream targets remain unclear. Recent studies have suggested that menin may act as a scaffold protein to coordinate gene transcription, and that menin is an oncogenic cofactor for homeobox (HOX) gene expression in hematopoietic cancer. The role of HOX genes in adult cell differentiation is still obscure, but growing evidence suggests that they may play important roles in the development of cancer. Therefore, we hypothesized that specific HOX genes were regulated by menin in parathyroid tumor development. Utilizing quantitative TaqMan RT-PCR, we compared expression profiles of the 39 HOX genes in human familial MEN1 (fMEN1) parathyroid tumors and sporadic parathyroid adenomas with normal samples. We identified a large set of 23 HOX genes whose deregulation is specific for fMEN1 parathyroid tumors, and only 5 HOX genes whose misexpression are specific for sporadic parathyroid tumor development. These findings provide the first evidence that loss of the MEN1 tumor suppressor gene is associated with deregulation of specific HOX gene expression in the development of familial human parathyroid tumors. Our results strongly reinforce the idea that abnormal expression of developmental HOX genes can be critical in human cancer progression.
H-C Jennifer Shen, Jennifer E Rosen, Lauren M Yang, Sharon A Savage, A Lee Burns, Carmen M Mateo, Sunita K Agarwal, Settara C Chandrasekharappa, Allen M Spiegel, Francis S Collins, Stephen J Marx, and Steven K Libutti
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.
Diana E Benn, Bruce G Robinson, and Roderick J Clifton-Bligh
The paraganglioma (PGL) syndromes types 1–5 are autosomal dominant disorders characterized by familial predisposition to PGLs, phaeochromocytomas (PCs), renal cell cancers, gastrointestinal stromal tumours and, rarely, pituitary adenomas. Each syndrome is associated with mutation in a gene encoding a particular subunit (or assembly factor) of succinate dehydrogenase (SDHx). The clinical manifestations of these syndromes are protean: patients may present with features of catecholamine excess (including the classic triad of headache, sweating and palpitations), or with symptoms from local tumour mass, or increasingly as an incidental finding on imaging performed for some other purpose. As genetic testing for these syndromes becomes more widespread, presymptomatic diagnosis is also possible, although penetrance of disease in these syndromes is highly variable and tumour development does not clearly follow a predetermined pattern. PGL1 syndrome (SDHD) and PGL2 syndrome (SDHAF2) are notable for high frequency of multifocal tumour development and for parent-of-origin inheritance: disease is almost only ever manifest in subjects inheriting the defective allele from their father. PGL4 syndrome (SDHB) is notable for an increased risk of malignant PGL or PC. PGL3 syndrome (SDHC) and PGL5 syndrome (SDHA) are less common and appear to be associated with lower penetrance of tumour development. Although these syndromes are all associated with SDH deficiency, few genotype–phenotype relationships have yet been established, and indeed it is remarkable that such divergent phenotypes can arise from disruption of a common molecular pathway. This article reviews the clinical presentations of these syndromes, including their component tumours and underlying genetic basis.
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.
Erwan Thouënnon, Alice Pierre, Yannick Tanguy, Johann Guillemot, Destiny-Love Manecka, Marlène Guérin, L'houcine Ouafik, Mihaela Muresan, Marc Klein, Jérôme Bertherat, Hervé Lefebvre, Pierre-François Plouin, Laurent Yon, and Youssef Anouar
Pheochromocytomas are catecholamine-producing tumors which are generally benign, but which can also present as or develop into malignancy. Molecular pathways of malignant transformation remain poorly understood. Pheochromocytomas express various trophic peptides which may influence tumoral cell behavior. Here, we investigated the expression of trophic amidated peptides, including pituitary adenylate cyclase-activating polypeptide (PACAP), neuropeptide Y (NPY), and adrenomedullin (AM), and their receptors in benign and malignant pheochromocytomas in order to assess their potential role in chromaffin cell tumorigenesis and malignant transformation. PACAP, NPY, and AM are expressed in the majority of pheochromocytomas studied; NPY exhibiting the highest mRNA levels relative to reference genes. Although median gene expression or peptide levels were systematically lower in malignant compared to benign tumors, no statistically significant difference was found. Among all the receptors of these peptides that were analyzed, only the AM receptor RDC1 displayed a differential expression between benign and malignant pheochromocytomas. This receptor exhibited a fourfold higher expression in malignant than in benign tumors. AM and stromal cell-derived factor 1, which has also been described as a ligand for RDC1, increased the number of human pheochromocytoma cells in primary culture and exerted anti-apoptotic activity on rat pheochromocytoma PC12 cells. In addition, RDC1 gene silencing decreased the number of viable PC12 cells. This study shows the expression of several trophic peptides and their receptors in benign and malignant pheochromocytomas, and suggests that AM and its RDC1 receptor could be involved in chromaffin cell tumorigenesis through pro-survival effects. Therefore, AM and RDC1 may represent valuable targets for the treatment of malignant pheochromocytomas.
Misu Lee, Amelie Lupp, Nigel Mendoza, Niamh Martin, Rudi Beschorner, Jürgen Honegger, Jürgen Schlegel, Talia Shively, Elke Pulz, Stefan Schulz, Federico Roncaroli, and Natalia S Pellegata
Gonadotroph pituitary adenomas (GPAs) often present as invasive macroadenomas not amenable to complete surgical resection. Radiotherapy is the only post-operative option for patients with large invasive or recurrent lesions. No medical treatment is available for these patients. The somatostatin analogs (SSAs) octreotide and lanreotide that preferentially target somatostatin receptor type 2 (SSTR2) have little effect on GPAs. It is widely accepted that the expression of specific SSTR subtypes determines the response to SSAs. Given that previous studies on mRNA and protein expression of SSTRs in GPAs have generated conflicting results, we investigated the expression of SSTR2, SSTR3, and SSTR5 (the main targets of available SSAs) in a clinically and pathologically well-characterized cohort of 108 patients with GPAs. A total of 118 samples were examined by immunohistochemistry using validated and specific MABs. Matched primary and recurrent tissues were available for ten patients. The results obtained were validated in an independent cohort of 27 GPAs. We observed that SSTR3 was significantly more abundant than SSTR2 (P<0.0001) in GPAs, while full-length SSTR5 was only expressed in few tumors. Expression of SSTR3 was similar in primary and recurrent adenomas, was high in potentially aggressive lesions, and did not change significantly in adenomas that recurred after irradiation. In conclusion, low levels of expression of SSTR2 may account for the limited response of GPAs to octreotide and lanreotide. Given the potent anti-proliferative, pro-apoptotic, and anti-angiogenic activities of SSTR3, targeting this receptor with a multireceptor ligand SSA such as pasireotide may be indicated for potentially aggressive GPAs.
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.
Caroline Wilson, Hannah Brown, and Ingunn Holen
Multiple factors influence the survival of disseminated breast tumour cells (DTCs) in bone. Whereas gene signature studies have identified genes that predict a propensity of tumours to metastasise to bone, the bone environment is key in determining the fate of these tumour cells. Breast cancer cells locate to specific niches within the bone that support their survival, regulated by host factors within the bone microenvironment including bone cells, cells of the bone micro vasculature, immune cells and the extracellular matrix. Reproductive endocrine hormones that affect bone and clinical studies across the menopausal transition have provided comprehensive understanding of the changes in the bone microenvironment during this time. Menopause is characterized by a decrease in ovarian oestradiol and inhibins, with an increase in pituitary follicle-stimulating hormone and this review will focus on the role of these three hormones in determining the fate of DTCs in bone. Both in vivo and clinical data suggest that premenopausal bone is a conducive environment for growth of breast cancer cells in bone. Adjuvant cancer treatment aims to reduce the risk of tumour recurrence by affecting DTCs. Drugs targeting the bone resorbing osteoclasts, such as bisphosphonates, have therefore been evaluated in this setting. Both preclinical and adjuvant clinical studies have shown that bisphosphonates’ ability to decrease tumour growth in bone is influenced by the levels of endocrine hormones, with enhanced effects in a postmenopausal bone microenvironment. The challenge is to understand the molecular mechanisms behind this phenomenon and to evaluate if alternative adjuvant bone-targeted therapies may be effective in premenopausal women.
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.
G Emons, C Gr√ºndker, A R G√ºnthert, S Westphalen, J Kavanagh, and C Verschraegen
Approximately 80% of human ovarian and endometrial cancers and 50% of breast cancers express GnRH and its receptor as part of an autocrine regulatory system. After binding of its ligand the tumor GnRH receptor couples to G-protein alphai and activates a variety of intracellular signaling mechanisms. (1) Through activation of a protein tyrosine phosphatase, autophosphorylation of growth factor receptors is reverted leading to an inhibition of mitogenic signaling and reduced cell proliferation. (2) Through activation of nuclear factor kappa B antiapoptotic mechanisms are induced protecting tumor cells from apoptosis induced, for example, by doxorubicin. (3) Through activation of the Jun kinase pathway AP-1 is induced, leading to cell cycle arrest in the G0/G1 phase. It seems reasonable to speculate that this system enables the tumor cell to reduce proliferation and to activate repair mechanisms while being protected simultaneously from apoptosis. Interestingly, GnRH antagonists show the same activity in this system as agonists, indicating that the dichotomy GnRH agonist-GnRH antagonist defined in the pituitary gonadotrope is not valid for the tumor GnRH system. Recently, a second type of GnRH receptor, specific for GnRH-II, has been identified in ovarian and endometrial cancers, which transmits significantly stronger antiproliferative effects than the GnRH-I receptor. GnRH antagonists have agonistic effects on this type II receptor. In animal models of human cancers, GnRH antagonists had stronger antitumor effects than GnRH agonists. Therefore, we performed a phase II clinical trial with the GnRH antagonist, cetrorelix (10 mg/day), in patients with ovarian or mullerian carcinoma refractory to platinum chemotherapy. Of 17 evaluable patients treated with cetrorelix, 3 obtained a partial remission (18%) which lasted for 2 to 6 months. Furthermore, 6 patients experienced disease stabilization (35%) for up to 1 year. In this very refractory patient population (median number of prior chemotherapies = 3) these results are quite remarkable when compared with palliative chemotherapy. In addition, cytotoxic GnRH analogs have been developed, where for example doxorubicin was covalently coupled to GnRH analogs. These compounds have superior antitumor effects in cancers expressing GnRH receptors as compared with native doxorubicin and allow for a targeted cytotoxic chemotherapy of gynecologic and breast cancers.