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Rabii Ameziane El Hassani, Camille Buffet, Sophie Leboulleux and Corinne Dupuy

At physiological concentrations, reactive oxygen species (ROS), including superoxide anions and H2O2, are considered as second messengers that play key roles in cellular functions, such as proliferation, gene expression, host defence and hormone synthesis. However, when they are at supraphysiological levels, ROS are considered potent DNA-damaging agents. Their increase induces oxidative stress, which can initiate and maintain genomic instability. The thyroid gland represents a good model for studying the impact of oxidative stress on genomic instability. Indeed, one particularity of this organ is that follicular thyroid cells synthesise thyroid hormones through a complex mechanism that requires H2O2. Because of their detection in thyroid adenomas and in early cell transformation, both oxidative stress and DNA damage are believed to be neoplasia-preceding events in thyroid cells. Oxidative DNA damage is, in addition, detected in the advanced stages of thyroid cancer, suggesting that oxidative lesions of DNA also contribute to the maintenance of genomic instability during the subsequent phases of tumourigenesis. Finally, ionizing radiation and the mutation of oncogenes, such as RAS and BRAF, play a key role in thyroid carcinogenesis through separate and unique mechanisms: they upregulate the expression of two distinct ‘professional’ ROS-generating systems, the NADPH oxidases DUOX1 and NOX4, which cause DNA damage that may promote chromosomal instability, tumourigenesis and dedifferentiation.

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Nabahet Ameur, Ludovic Lacroix, Sophie Roucan, Véronique Roux, Sophie Broutin, Monique Talbot, Corinne Dupuy, Bernard Caillou, Martin Schlumberger and Jean-Michel Bidart

RET oncogene mutations are found in familial medullary thyroid carcinomas (MTC) and in one-third of sporadic cases. Oncogenic mechanisms involved in non-RET mutated sporadic MTC remain unclear. To study alterations associated with the development of both inherited and sporadic MTC, pangenomic DNA microarrays were used to analyze the transcriptome of 13 MTCs (four familial and nine sporadic). By using an ANOVA test, a list of 173 gene sequences with at least a twofold change expression was obtained. A subset of differentially expressed genes was controlled by real-time quantitative PCR and immunohistochemistry on a larger collection of MTCs. The expression pattern of those genes allowed us to distinguish two groups of sporadic tumors. The first group displays an expression profile similar to that expressed by inherited RET634 tumors. The second presents an expression profile close to that displayed by inherited RET918 tumors and includes tumors from patients with distant metastases. It is characterized by the overexpression of genes involved in proliferation and invasion (PTN, ESM1, and CEACAM6) or matrix remodeling (COL1A1, COL1A2, and FAP). Interestingly, RET918 tumors showed overexpression of the PTN gene, encoding pleiotrophin, a protein associated with metastasis. Using a MTC cell line, silencing of RET induced the inhibition of PTN gene expression. Overall, our results suggest that familial MTC and sporadic MTC could activate similar oncogenic pathways.

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Urbain Weyemi, Bernard Caillou, Monique Talbot, Rabii Ameziane-El-Hassani, Ludovic Lacroix, Odile Lagent-Chevallier, Abir Al Ghuzlan, Dirk Roos, Jean-Michel Bidart, Alain Virion, Martin Schlumberger and Corinne Dupuy

NADPH oxidase 4 (NOX4) belongs to the NOX family that generates reactive oxygen species (ROS). Function and tissue distribution of NOX4 have not yet been entirely clarified. To date, in the thyroid gland, only DUOX1/2 NOX systems have been described. NOX4 mRNA expression, as shown by real-time PCR, was present in normal thyroid tissue, regulated by TSH and significantly increased in differentiated cancer tissues. TSH increased the protein level of NOX4 in human thyroid primary culture and NOX4-dependent ROS generation. NOX4 immunostaining was detected in normal and pathologic thyroid tissues. In normal thyroid tissue, staining was heterogeneous and mostly found in activated columnar thyrocytes but absent in quiescent flat cells. Papillary and follicular thyroid carcinomas displayed more homogeneous staining. The p22phox protein that forms a heterodimeric enzyme complex with NOX4 displayed an identical cellular expression pattern and was also positively regulated by TSH. ROS may have various biological effects, depending on the site of production. Intracellular NOX4–p22phox localization suggests a role in cytoplasmic redox signaling, in contrast to the DUOX localization at the apical membrane that corresponds to an extracellular H2O2 production. Increased NOX4–p22phox in cancer might be related to a higher proliferation rate and tumor progression but a role in the development of tumors has to be further studied and established in the future.

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Monia Zidane, Jean-Baptiste Cazier, Sylvie Chevillard, Catherine Ory, Martin Schlumberger, Corinne Dupuy, Jean-François Deleuze, Anne Boland, Nadia Haddy, Fabienne Lesueur and Florent de Vathaire

The first study establishing exposure to ionizing radiations (IRs) as a risk factor for differentiated thyroid cancer (DTC) was published 70 years ago. Given that radiation exposure causes direct DNA damage, genetic alterations in the different DNA repair mechanisms are assumed to play an important role in long-term IR-induced DNA damage prevention. Individual variations in DNA repair capacity may cause different reactions to damage made by IR exposure. The aim of this review is to recapitulate current knowledge about constitutional genetic polymorphisms found to be significantly associated with DTC occurring after IR exposure. Studies were screened online using electronic databases – only fully available articles, and studies performed among irradiated population or taking radiation exposure as adjustment factors and showing significant results are included. Nine articles were identified. Ten variants in/near to genes in six biological pathways, namely thyroid activity regulations, generic transcription, RET signaling, ATM signaling and DNA repair pathways were found to be associated with radiation-related DTC in these studies. Only seven variants were found to be in interaction with IR exposure in DTC risk. Most of these variants are also associated to sporadic DTC and are not specific to IR-related DTC. In the published studies, no data on children treated with radiotherapy is described. In conclusion, more studies carried out on larger cohorts or on case–control studies with well-documented individual radiation dose estimations are needed to get a comprehensive picture of genetic susceptibility factors involved in radiation-related DTC.