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Free access

Aparna Lakshmanan, Anna Wojcicka, Marta Kotlarek, Xiaoli Zhang, Krystian Jazdzewski, and Sissy M Jhiang

Na+/I symporter (NIS)-mediated radioiodide uptake (RAIU) serves as the basis for targeted ablation of thyroid cancer remnants. However, many patients with thyroid cancer have reduced NIS expression/function and hence do not benefit from radioiodine therapy. microRNA (miR) has emerged as a promising therapeutic target in many diseases; yet, the role of miRs in NIS-mediated RAIU has not been investigated. In silico analysis was used to identify miRs that may bind to the 3′UTR of human NIS (hNIS). The top candidate miR-339-5p directly bound to the 3′UTR of hNIS. miR-339-5p overexpression decreased NIS-mediated RAIU in HEK293 cells expressing exogenous hNIS, decreased the levels of NIS mRNA, and RAIU in transretinoic acid/hydrocortisone (tRA/H)-treated MCF-7 human breast cancer cells as well as thyrotropin-stimulated PCCl3 rat thyroid cells. Nanostring nCounter rat miR expression assay was conducted to identify miRs deregulated by TGFβ, Akti-1/2, or 17-AAG known to modulate RAIU in PCCl3 cells. Among 38 miRs identified, 18 were conserved in humans. One of the 18 miRs, miR-195, was predicted to bind to the 3′UTR of hNIS and its overexpression decreased RAIU in tRA/H-treated MCF-7 cells. miR-339-5p was modestly increased in most papillary thyroid carcinomas (PTCs), yet miR-195 was significantly decreased in PTCs. Interestingly, the expression profiles of 18 miRs could be used to distinguish most PTCs from nonmalignant thyroid tissues. This is the first report, to our knowledge, demonstrating that hNIS-mediated RAIU can be modulated by miRs, and that the same miRs may also play roles in the development or maintenance of thyroid malignancy. Accordingly, miRs may serve as emerging targets to halt the progression of thyroid cancer and to enhance the efficacy of radioiodine therapy.

Free access

Yu-Yu Liu, Xiaoli Zhang, Matthew D Ringel, and Sissy M Jhiang

The selective increase of Na+/I symporter (NIS)-mediated active iodide uptake in thyroid cells allows the use of radioiodine I131 for diagnosis and targeted treatment of thyroid cancers. However, NIS-mediated radioiodine accumulation is often reduced in thyroid cancers due to decreased NIS expression/function. As PI3K signaling is overactivated in many thyroid tumors, we investigated the effects of inhibitors for PI3K, Akt, or mTORC1 as well as their interplay on NIS modulation in thyroid cells under chronic TSH stimulation. PI3K inhibition by LY294002 increased NIS-mediated radioiodide uptake (RAIU) mainly through upregulation of NIS expression, however, mTORC1 inhibition by Rapamycin did not increase NIS-mediated RAIU despite increased NIS protein levels. In comparison, Akt inhibition by Akti-1/2 did not increase NIS protein levels, yet markedly increased NIS-mediated RAIU by decreasing iodide efflux rate and increasing iodide transport rate and iodide affinity of NIS. The effects of Akti-1/2 on NIS-mediated RAIU are not detected in nonthyroid cells, implying that Akti-1/2 or its derivatives may represent potential pharmacological reagents to selectively increase thyroidal radioiodine accumulation and therapeutic efficacy.

Free access

Yu-Yu Liu, Michael P Brandt, Daniel H Shen, Richard T Kloos, Xiaoli Zhang, and Sissy M Jhiang

Selective iodide uptake and prolonged iodine retention in the thyroid is the basis for targeted radioiodine therapy for thyroid cancer patients; however, salivary gland dysfunction is the most frequent nonthyroidal complications. In this study, we have used noninvasive single photon emission computed tomography functional imaging to quantify the temporal dynamics of thyroidal and salivary radioiodine accumulation in mice. At 60 min post radionuclide injection, radionuclide accumulation in the salivary gland was generally higher than that in thyroid due to much larger volume of the salivary gland. However, radionuclide accumulation per anatomic unit in the salivary gland was lower than that in thyroid and was comparable among mice of different age and gender. Differently, radionuclide accumulation per anatomic unit in thyroid varied greatly among mice. The extent of thyroidal radioiodine accumulation stimulated by a single dose of exogenous bovine TSH (bTSH) in triiodothyronine (T3)-supplemented mice was much less than that in mice received neither bTSH nor T3 (nontreated mice), suggesting that the duration of elevated serum TSH level is important to maximize thyroidal radioiodine accumulation. Furthermore, the extent and duration of radioiodine accumulation stimulated by bTSH was less in the thyroids of the thyroid-targeted RET/PTC1 (thyroglobulin (Tg)-PTC1) mice bearing thyroid tumors compared with the thyroids in wild-type (WT) mice. Finally, the effect of 17-allyamino-17-demothoxygeldanamycin on increasing thyroidal, but not salivary, radioiodine accumulation was validated in both WT mice and Tg-PTC1 preclinical thyroid cancer mouse model.

Free access

Samantha K McCarty, Motoyasu Saji, Xiaoli Zhang, Christina M Knippler, Lawrence S Kirschner, Soledad Fernandez, and Matthew D Ringel

Increased p21-activated kinase (PAK) signaling and expression have been identified in the invasive fronts of aggressive papillary thyroid cancers (PTCs), including those with RET/PTC, BRAFV600E, and mutant RAS expression. Functionally, thyroid cancer cell motility in vitro is dependent on group 1 PAKs, particularly PAK1. In this study, we hypothesize that BRAF, a central kinase in PTC tumorigenesis and invasion, regulates thyroid cancer cell motility in part through PAK activation. Using three well-characterized human thyroid cancer cell lines, we demonstrated in all cell lines that BRAF knockdown reduced PAK phosphorylation of direct downstream targets. In contrast, inhibition of MEK activity either pharmacologically or with siRNA did not reduce PAK activity, indicating MEK is dispensable for PAK activity. Inhibition of cell migration through BRAF loss is rescued by overexpression of either constitutive active MEK1 or PAK1, demonstrating that both signaling pathways are involved in BRAF-regulated cell motility. To further characterize BRAF–PAK signaling, immunofluorescence and immunoprecipitation demonstrated that both exogenously overexpressed and endogenous PAK1 and BRAF co-localize and physically interact, and that this interaction was enhanced in mitosis. Finally, we demonstrated that acute induction of BRAFV600E expression in vivo in murine thyroid glands results in increased PAK expression and activity confirming a positive signaling relationship in vivo. In conclusion, we have identified a signaling pathway in thyroid cancer cells which BRAF activates and physically interacts with PAK and regulates cell motility.

Free access

Samantha K McCarty, Motoyasu Saji, Xiaoli Zhang, David Jarjoura, Alfredo Fusco, Vasyl V Vasko, and Matthew D Ringel

p21-activated kinases (PAKs) are a family of serine/threonine kinases that regulate cytoskeletal dynamics and cell motility. PAKs are subdivided into group I (PAKs 1–3) and group II (PAKs 4–6) on the basis of structural and functional characteristics. Based on prior gene expression data that predicted enhanced PAK signaling in the invasive fronts of aggressive papillary thyroid cancers (PTCs), we hypothesized that PAKs functionally regulate thyroid cancer cell motility and are activated in PTC invasive fronts. We examined PAK isoform expression in six human thyroid cancer cell lines (BCPAP, KTC1, TPC1, FTC133, C643, and SW1746) by quantitative reverse transcription-PCR and western blot. All cell lines expressed PAKs 1–4 and PAK6 mRNA and PAKs 1–4 protein; PAK6 protein was variably expressed. Samples from normal and malignant thyroid tissues also expressed PAKs 1–4 and PAK6 mRNA; transfection with the group I (PAKs 1–3) PAK-specific p21 inhibitory domain molecular inhibitor reduced transwell filter migration by ∼50% without altering viability in all cell lines (P<0.05). BCPAP and FTC133 cells were transfected with PAK1, PAK2, or PAK3-specific small interfering RNA (siRNA); only PAK1 siRNA reduced migration significantly for both cell lines. Immunohistochemical analysis of seven invasive PTCs demonstrated an increase in PAK1 and pPAK immunoactivity in the invasive fronts versus the tumor center. In conclusion, PAK isoforms are expressed in human thyroid tissues and cell lines. PAK1 regulates thyroid cancer cell motility, and PAK1 and pPAK levels are increased in PTC invasive fronts. These data implicate PAKs as regulators of thyroid cancer invasion.

Open access

Xiaoli Liu, Chunhai Zhang, Xiaomiao Wang, Can Cui, Hanwen Cui, Baishu Zhu, Anqi Chen, Lu Zhang, Jingwei Xin, Qingfeng Fu, Gianlorenzo Dionigi, and Hui Sun

Lymphatic metastasis is the leading cause responsible for recurrence and progression in papillary thyroid cancer (PTC), where dysregulation of long non-coding RNAs (lncRNAs) has been extensively demonstrated to be implicated. However, the specific lymphatic node metastatsis-related lncRNAs remain not identified in PTC yet. Lymphatic node metastatsis-related lncRNA, MFSD4A-AS1, was explored in the PTC dataset from The Cancer Genome Atlas and our clinical samples. The roles of MFSD4A-AS1 in lymphatic metastasis were investigated in vitro and in vivo. Bioinformatic analysis, luciferase assay and RNA immunoprecipitation assay were performed to identify the potential targets and the underlying pathway of MFSD4A-AS1 in lymphatic metastasis of PTC. MFSD4A-AS1 was specifically upregulated in PTC tissues with lymphatic metastasis. Upregulating MFSD4A-AS1 promoted mesh formation and migration of human umbilical vein endothelial cells and invasion and migration of PTC cells. Importantly and consistently, MFSD4A-AS1 promoted lymphatic metastasis of PTC cells in vivo by inducing the lymphangiogenic formation and enhancing the invasive capability of PTC cells. Mechanistic dissection further revealed that MFSD4A-AS1 functioned as competing endogenous RNA to sequester miR-30c-2-3p, miR-145-3p and miR-139-5p to disrupt the miRNA-mediated inhibition of vascular endothelial growth factors A and C, and further activated transforming growth factor (TGF)-β signaling by sponging miR-30c-2-3p that targeted TGFBR2 and USP15, both of which synergistically promoted lymphangiogenesis and lymphatic metastasis of PTC. Our results unravel novel dual mechanisms by which MFSD4A-AS1 promotes lymphatic metastasis of PTC, which will facilitate the development of anti-lymphatic metastatic therapeutic strategy in PTC.

Free access

Amruta Ashtekar, Danielle Huk, Alexa Magner, Krista La Perle, Xiaoli Zhang, José I Piruat, José López-Barneo, Sissy M Jhiang, and Lawrence S Kirschner

Mutations in genes encoding enzymes in the tricarboxylic acid cycle (TCA, also known as the Krebs cycle) have been implicated as causative genetic lesions in a number of human cancers, including renal cell cancers, glioblastomas and pheochromocytomas. In recent studies, missense mutations in the succinate dehydrogenase (SDH) complex have also been proposed to cause differentiated thyroid cancer. In order to gain mechanistic insight into this process, we generated mice lacking the SDH subunit D (Sdhd) in the thyroid. We report that these mice develop enlarged thyroid glands with follicle hypercellularity and increased proliferation. In vitro, human thyroid cell lines with knockdown of SDHD exhibit an enhanced migratory capability, despite no change in proliferative capacity. Interestingly, these cells acquire stem-like features which are also observed in the mouse tumors. The stem-like characteristics are reversed by α-ketoglutarate, suggesting that SDH-associated tumorigenesis results from dedifferentiation driven by an imbalance in cellular metabolites of the TCA cycle. The results of this study reveal a metabolic vulnerability for potential future treatment of SDH-associated neoplasia.