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Eyun Song, Dong Eun Song, Jonghwa Ahn, Tae Yong Kim, Won Bae Kim, Young Kee Shong, Min Ji Jeon, and Won Gu Kim

Major clinical challenges exist with differentiated thyroid cancers with distant metastases or rare but aggressive types, such as poorly differentiated thyroid carcinomas and anaplastic thyroid carcinomas. The precise characterization of the mutational profile in these advanced thyroid cancers is crucial. Samples were collected from primary tumors and distant metastases of 64 patients with distant metastases from differentiated thyroid cancer, poorly differentiated thyroid carcinoma, or anaplastic thyroid carcinoma. Targeted next-generation sequencing was performed with 50 known thyroid-cancer-related genes. Of the 82 tissues, 63 were from primary tumors and 19 from distant metastases. The most prevalent mutation observed from the primary tumors was TERT promoter mutation (56%), followed by BRAF (41%) and RAS (24%) mutations. TP3 was altered by 11%. Mutations in histone methyltransferases, SWI/SNF subunit–related genes, and PI3K/AKT/mTOR pathway-related genes were present in 42%, 12%, and 22%, respectively. When the mutational status was analyzed in 15 matched pairs of thyroid tumors and their matched distant metastases and one pair of distant metastases with two distinct sites, the concordance was high. A similar frequency of mutations in TERT promoter (58%) and BRAF (42%) as well as histone methyltransferases (37%), SWI/SNF subunits (10%), and PI3K/AKT/mTOR pathway (26%) were noted. The same main, early and late mutations were practically always present in individual primary tumor–metastasis pairs. Enrichment of TERT promoter, BRAF, and RAS mutations were detected in highly advanced thyroid cancers with distant metastasis. The genetic profiles of primary thyroid tumors and their corresponding distant metastases showed a high concordance.

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Kyungmin Lee, Sang-Hyun Lee, Wooil Kim, Jangwook Lee, Jong-Gil Park, Jang-Seong Kim, Jung Tae Kim, Yea Eun Kang, Minho Shong, Hyo Jin Lee, Jin-Man Kim, Won Gu Kim, Bon Seok Koo, Koon Soon Kim, and Jeong-Ki Min

Anaplastic thyroid cancer (ATC) is a rapidly growing, highly metastatic cancer with limited therapeutic alternatives, thus targeted therapies need to be developed. This study aimed to examine desmoglein 2 (Dsg2) expression in ATC and its biological role and potential as a therapeutic target in ATC. Consequently, Dsg2 was downregulated or aberrantly expressed in ATC tissues. ATC patients with low Dsg2 expression levels also presented with distant metastasis. Dsg2 depletion significantly increased cell migration and invasion, with a relatively limited effect on ATC cell proliferation in vitro and increased distant metastasis in vivo. Dsg2 knockdown induced cell motility through the hepatocyte growth factor receptor (HGFR, c-Met)/Src/Rac1 signaling axis, with no alterations in the expression of EMT-related molecules. Further, specific targeting of c-Met significantly inhibited the motility of shDsg2-depleted ATC cells. Decreased membrane Dsg2 expression increased the metastatic potential of ATC cells. These results indicate that Dsg2 plays an important role in ATC cell migration and invasiveness. Therapies targeting c-Met might be effective among ATC patients with low membrane Dsg2 expression levels, indicating that the analysis of Dsg2 expression potentially provides novel insights into treatment strategies for ATC.

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Woo Kyung Lee, Won Gu Kim, Laura Fozzatti, Sunmi Park, Li Zhao, Mark C Willingham, David Lonard, Bert W O’Malley, and Sheue-yann Cheng

Anaplastic thyroid carcinoma (ATC) is an aggressive malignancy without effective therapeutic options to improve survival. Steroid receptor coactivator-3 (SRC-3) is a transcriptional coactivator whose amplification and/or overexpression has been identified in many cancers. In this study, we explored the expression of SRC-3 in ATCs and the effects of a new class of SRC-3 inhibitor-2 (SI-2) in human ATC cells (THJ-11T and THJ-16T cells) and mouse xenograft models to assess therapeutic potential of SI-2 for the treatment of ATC. SRC-3 protein abundance was significantly higher in human ATC tissue samples and ATC cells than in differentiated thyroid carcinomas or normal controls. SI-2 treatment effectively reduced the SRC-3 expression in both ATC cells and ATC xenograft tumors induced by these cells. Cancer cell survival in ATC cells and tumor growth in xenograft tumors were significantly reduced by SI-2 treatment through induction of cancer cell apoptosis and cell cycle arrest. SI-2 also reduced cancer stem-like cells as shown by an inhibition of tumorsphere formation, ALDH activity, and expression of stem cell markers in ATC. These findings indicate that SRC-3 is a potential therapeutic target for treatment of ATC patients and that SI-2 is a potent and promising candidate for a new therapeutic agent.