Germline mutations of the three succinate dehydrogenase subunits SDHB, SDHC and SDHD have recently been associated with familial pheochromocytoma and paraganglioma. Several reasons make these genes candidate tumor suppressor genes for medullary thyroid carcinoma (MTC): (1) SDHB lies on chromosome 1p, the region known to be deleted most frequently in MTC, (2) MTCs develop from neural crest-derived cells, as do pheochromocytomas and paragangliomas and (3) patients with germline mutations of the Ret-protooncogene develop MTCs as well as pheochromocytomas, indicating a relationship of these tumors on a genetic level. Therefore, we attempted to determine whether the tumor suppressor genes SDHB, SDHC and SDHD are involved in sporadic and familial MTC. Somatic mutations of the SDH subunits were absent in all 35 investigated MTCs. Loss of heterozygosity was found in 27% (SDHB) and 4% (SDHD) respectively. While the frequency of non-coding, intronic polymorphisms did not differ in MTC patients compared with a control population, an accumulation of amino-acid coding polymorphisms (S163P in SDHB as well as G12S and H50R in SDHD) was found among MTC patients especially patients with familial tumors, suggesting a functional connection of coding SDH polymorphisms to activating Ret mutations.
M Montani, A M Schmitt, S Schmid, T Locher, P Saremaslani, P U Heitz, P Komminoth and A Perren
A M Schmitt, S Schmid, T Rudolph, M Anlauf, C Prinz, G Klöppel, H Moch, P U Heitz, P Komminoth and A Perren
A small subset of familial pancreatic endocrine tumors (PET) arises in patients with von Hippel–Lindau syndrome and these tumors may have an adverse outcome compared to other familial PET. Sporadic PET rarely harbors somatic VHL mutations, but the chromosomal location of the VHL gene is frequently deleted in sporadic PET. A subset of sporadic PET shows active hypoxia signals on mRNA and protein level. To identify the frequency of functionally relevant VHL inactivation in sporadic PET and to examine a possible prognostic significance we correlated epigenetic and genetic VHL alterations with hypoxia signals. VHL mutations were absent in all 37 PETs examined. In 2 out of 35 informative PET (6%) methylation of the VHL promoter region was detected and VHL deletion by fluorescence in situ hybridization was found in 14 out of 79 PET (18%). Hypoxia inducible factor 1α (HIF1-α), carbonic anhydrase 9 (CA-9), and glucose transporter 1 (GLUT-1) protein was expressed in 19, 27, and 30% of the 152 PETs examined. Protein expression of the HIF1-α downstream target CA-9 correlated significantly with the expression of CA-9 RNA (P<0.001), VHL RNA (P<0.05), and VHL deletion (P<0.001) as well as with HIF1-α (P<0.005) and GLUT-1 immunohistochemistry (P<0.001). These PET with VHL alterations and signs of hypoxia signalling were characterized by a significantly shortened disease-free survival. We conclude that VHL gene impairment by promoter methylation and VHL deletion in nearly 25% of PET leads to the activation of the HIF-pathway. Our data suggest that VHL inactivation and consecutive hypoxia signals may be a mechanism for the development of sporadic PET with an adverse outcome.
Mieke E R Henfling, Aurel A Perren, Anja M Schmitt, Christiane M Saddig, Achim A Starke, Robert G Riedl, Yvonne M H Versleijen-Jonkers, Diana M Sprij-Mooij, Frans C S Ramaekers, Leo J Hofland and Ernst-Jan M Speel
Clinical and molecular studies have implicated epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR), insulin-like growth factor (IGF) and target of rapamycin (mTOR) signaling pathways in the regulation of pancreatic neuroendocrine tumor (PanNET) growth. Interpretation and comparison of these studies is complex due to clinical and molecular tumor heterogeneity. We therefore focused in this study on insulinomas, which we examined for mRNA and protein expression of EGFR, IGF and mTOR signaling pathway components by quantitative real-time PCR (n = 48) and immunohistochemistry (n = 86). Findings were compared with normal pancreatic islets and correlated with histopathological data and clinical outcome. Insulinomas showed low EGFR and high IGF2 expression. IGFBP2, IGFBP3 and IGFBP6 mRNA levels were 2- to 4-folds higher than those in islets. High protein expression of IGF2, IGF1R and INSR (in 51–92% of the tumors) and low-to-moderate expression of mTORC1 pathway proteins p-S6k and p-4EBP1 (7–28% of the tumors) were observed. Correlations were found between (1) ERK1 mRNA expression and that of numerous IGF pathway genes, (2) p-ERK and IGF1R protein expression and (3) decrease of IGF pathway components and both metastatic disease and shorter 10-year disease-free survival. In conclusion, our observations suggest that high expression of IGF signaling pathway components is a hallmark of insulinomas, but does not necessarily lead to increased mTOR signaling. Reduced expression of IGF pathway components may be an adverse prognostic factor in insulinomas.
Y M H Jonkers, S M H Claessen, A Perren, A M Schmitt, L J Hofland, W de Herder, R R de Krijger, A A J Verhofstad, A R Hermus, J A Kummer, B Skogseid, M Volante, A C Voogd, F C S Ramaekers and E J M Speel
The clinical behavior of endocrine pancreatic tumors (EPTs) is difficult to predict in the absence of metastases or invasion to adjacent organs. Several markers have been indicated as potential predictors of metastatic disease, such as tumor size ≥2 cm, Ki67 proliferative index ≥2%, cytokeratin (CK) 19 status, and recently in insulinomas, chromosomal instability (CIN). The goal of this study was to evaluate the value of these markers, and in particular of the CIN, to predict tumor recurrence or progression and tumor-specific death, using a series of 47 insulinomas and 24 non-insulinoma EPTs. From these EPT cases, a genomic profile has been generated and follow-up data have been obtained. The proliferative index has been determined in 68 tumors and a CK19 expression pattern in 50 tumors. Results are statistically analyzed using Kaplan–Meier plots and the log-rank statistic. General CIN, as well as specific chromosomal alterations such as 3p and 6q loss and 12q gain, turned out to be the most powerful indicators for poor tumor-free survival (P≤0.0004) and tumor-specific death (P≤0.0113) in insulinomas. The CIN, chromosome 7q gain, and a proliferative index ≥2% were reliable in predicting a poor tumor-free survival in non-insulinoma EPTs (P≤0.0181, whereas CK19 expression was the most optimal predictor of tumor-specific death in these tumors. In conclusion, DNA copy number status is the most sensitive and efficient marker of adverse clinical outcome in insulinomas and of potential interest in non-insulinoma EPTs. As a consequence, this marker should be considered as a prognosticator to improve clinical diagnosis, most practically as a simple multi-target test.
Michael A Hahn, Viive M Howell, Anthony J Gill, Adele Clarkson, Graham Weaire-Buchanan, Bruce G Robinson, Leigh Delbridge, Oliver Gimm, Wolfgang D Schmitt, Bin T Teh and Deborah J Marsh
The tumor suppressor HRPT2/CDC73 is mutated in constitutive DNA from patients with the familial disorder hyperparathyroidism–jaw tumor syndrome and in ∼70% of all parathyroid carcinomas. In a number of HRPT2 mutant tumors however, expression of the encoded protein parafibromin is lost in the absence of a clear second event such as HRPT2 allelic loss or the presence of a second mutation in this tumor suppressor gene. We sought to determine whether hypermethylation of a 713 bp CpG island extending 648 nucleotides upstream of the HRPT2 translational start site and 65 nucleotides into exon 1 might be a mechanism contributing to the loss of expression of parafibromin in parathyroid tumors. Furthermore, we asked whether mutations might be present in the 5′-untranslated region (5′-UTR) of HRPT2. We investigated a pool of tissue from 3 normal parathyroid glands, as well as 15 individual parathyroid tumor samples including 6 tumors with known HRPT2 mutations, for hypermethylation of the HRPT2 CpG island. Methylation was not identified in any specimens despite complete loss of parafibromin expression in two parathyroid carcinomas with a single detectable HRPT2 mutation and retention of the wild-type HRPT2 allele. Furthermore, no mutations of a likely pathogenic nature were identified in the 5′-UTR of HRPT2. These data strongly suggest that alternative mechanisms such as mutation in HRPT2 intronic regions, additional epigenetic regulation such as histone modifications, or other regulatory inactivation mechanisms such as targeting by microRNAs may play a role in the loss of parafibromin expression.