The RET receptor tyrosine kinase mediates cell proliferation, survival and migration in embryogenesis and is implicated in the transformation and tumour progression in multiple cancers. RET is frequently mutated and constitutively activated in familial and sporadic thyroid carcinomas. As a result of alternative splicing, RET is expressed as two protein isoforms, RET9 and RET51, which differ in their unique C-terminal amino acids. These isoforms have distinct intracellular trafficking and associated signalling complexes, but functional differences are not well defined. We used shRNA-mediated knockdown (KD) of individual RET isoforms or of total RET to evaluate their functional contributions in thyroid carcinoma cells. We showed that RET is required for cell survival in medullary (MTC) but not papillary thyroid carcinoma (PTC) cells. In PTC cells, RET depletion reduced cell migration and induced a flattened epithelial-like morphology. RET KD decreased the expression of mesenchymal markers and matrix metalloproteinases and reduced anoikis resistance and invasive potential. Further, we showed that RET51 depletion had significantly greater effects on each of these processes than RET9 depletion in both MTC and PTC cells. Finally, we showed that expression of RET, particularly RET51, was correlated with malignancy in a panel of human thyroid tumour tissues. Together, our data show that RET expression promotes a more mesenchymal phenotype with reduced cell–cell adhesion and increased invasiveness in PTC cell models, but is more important for tumour cell survival, proliferation and anoikis resistance in MTC models. Our data suggest that the RET51 isoform plays a more prominent role in mediating these processes compared to RET9.
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- Author: Mathieu J F Crupi x
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