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Marie-Claude Hofmann, Muthusamy Kunnimalaiyaan, Jennifer R Wang, Naifa L Busaidy, Steven I Sherman, Stephen Y Lai, Mark Zafereo, and Maria E Cabanillas

Protein kinases play critical roles in cell survival, proliferation, and motility. Their dysregulation is therefore a common feature in the pathogenesis of a number of solid tumors, including thyroid cancers. Inhibiting activated protein kinases has revolutionized thyroid cancer therapy, offering a promising strategy in treating tumors refractory to radioactive iodine treatment or cytotoxic chemotherapies. However, despite satisfactory early responses, these drugs are not curative and most patients inevitably progress due to drug resistance. This review summarizes up-to-date knowledge on various mechanisms that thyroid cancer cells develop to bypass protein kinase inhibition and outlines strategies that are being explored to overcome drug resistance. Understanding how cancer cells respond to drugs and identifying novel molecular targets for therapy still represents a major challenge for the treatment of these patients.

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Goswin Y Meyer-Rochow, Nicole E Jackson, John V Conaglen, Denis E Whittle, Muthusamy Kunnimalaiyaan, Herbert Chen, Gunnar Westin, Johanna Sandgren, Peter Stålberg, Elham Khanafshar, Daniel Shibru, Quan-Yang Duh, Orlo H Clark, Electron Kebebew, Anthony J Gill, Rory Clifton-Bligh, Bruce G Robinson, Diana E Benn, and Stan B Sidhu

MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are small RNAs (∼22 bp) that post-transcriptionally regulate protein expression and are found to be differentially expressed in a number of human cancers. There is increasing evidence to suggest that miRNAs could be useful in cancer diagnosis, prognosis, and therapy. We performed miRNA microarray expression profiling on a cohort of 12 benign and 12 malignant pheochromocytomas and identified a number of differentially expressed miRNAs. These results were validated in a separate cohort of ten benign and ten malignant samples using real-time quantitative RT-PCR; benign samples had a minimum follow-up of at least 2 years. It was found that IGF2 as well as its intronic miR-483-5p was over-expressed, while miR-15a and miR-16 were under-expressed in malignant tumours compared with benign tumours. These miRNAs were found to be diagnostic and prognostic markers for malignant pheochromocytoma. The functional role of miR-15a and miR-16 was investigated in vitro in the rat PC12 pheochromocytoma cell line, and these miRNAs were found to regulate cell proliferation via their effect on cyclin D1 and apoptosis. These data indicate that miRNAs play a pivotal role in the biology of malignant pheochromocytoma, and represent an important class of diagnostic and prognostic biomarkers and therapeutic targets warranting further investigation.