Anaplastic thyroid cancer (ATC) is a rare thyroid tumor that frequently originates from the dedifferentiation of a well-differentiated papillary or follicular thyroid cancer. Type 2 deiodinase (D2), responsible for the activation of the thyroid hormone T4 into T3, is expressed in normal thyroid cells and its expression is strongly downregulated in papillary thyroid cancer. In skin cancer, D2 has been associated with cancer progression, dedifferentiation and epithelial-mesenchymal transition. Here, we show that D2 is highly expressed in anaplastic compared to papillary thyroid cancer cell lines and that D2-derived T3 is required for ATC cell proliferation. D2 inhibition is associated with G1 growth arrest and induction of cell senescence, together with reduced cell migration and invasive potential. Finally, we found that mutated p5372R(R248W), frequently found in ATC, is able to induce D2 expression in transfected papillary thyroid cancer cells. Our results show that the action of D2 is crucial for ATC proliferation and invasiveness, providing a potential new therapeutic target for the treatment of ATC.
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