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Vol 56, No 3 (2005)
Congressional papers
Published online: 2006-03-24
Submitted: 2013-02-15
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Genetic factors predisposing to the development of papillary thyroid cancer

Monika Puzianowska-Kuźnicka, Maciej Pietrzak
Endokrynologia Polska 2005;56(3):339-345.

open access

Vol 56, No 3 (2005)
Congressional papers
Published online: 2006-03-24
Submitted: 2013-02-15

Abstract

According to classic theory of neogenesis, cancer arises from well-differentiated cell that in response to variety of factors de-differentiates, becomes able to proliferate without control and/or loses its ability to undergo apoptosis. According to another theory, cancers (at least cancers of some organs) originate from stem cells, which „by definition” are poorly differentiated and able to proliferate indefinitely. Therefore a lower number of abnormal events is necessary for these cells to escape proliferation-controlling mechanisms. With regard to papillary thyroid cancers it is still thought that it arises from well-differentiated thyreocyte.
One of the characteristic features of cancer cell is chromosomal instability. Lowest number of such abnormalities is observed in well-differentiated thyroid cancers (including papillary cancer), intermediate – in poorly-differentiated cancers, while highest – in anaplastic cancers. Microarray analysis shows that despite of clinical heterogeneity, gene expression profiles of papillary cancers are very similar. Genetic anomalies predisposing to the development of papillary cancer most commonly regard proteins that possess kinase activity. Kinases phosphorylate other proteins, and play an extremely important role in signal transduction from outside the cell as well as inside the cell. Constitutive activation of some kinases may lead to the excessive and/or permanent activation of some transduction pathways specific for mitogens or growth factors. This results in excessive proliferation. The best known protein of such type which function is altered in papillary thyroid cancers is RET – a membrane-located growth factor-receptor with kinase activity. RET gene undergoes different rearrangements in this type of cancer. There are approximately 10 RET rearrangements known, with RET/PTC3 and RET/PTC1 being most common. In this anomaly kinase domain-encoding 3’ end of RET gene is aberrantly bound to 5’ end of another gene. Fusion protein synthesized on such hybrid template is not present in the cell membrane but in the cytoplasm, where it permanently activates transduction pathway specific for RET. NTRK1 gene encoding a member of family of neuronal growth factor receptors containing thyrosine kinase domain is also rearranged in papillary cancers. However, genes fused to its kinase domain-encoding sequence are different from the ones fused to RET. MET, a gene encoding another membrane protein with thyrosine kinase activity, which acts as a growth factor-receptor, is overexpressed in 70%-90% of papillary thyroid cancers.
BRAF gene encoding another yet kinase transducing signals from RAS and RAF to the cell is mutated at position 1796 (T/A, amino acid substitution V599E) in 38-69% of papillary cancers. The presence of this activatory mutation is associated with higher degree of clinical advancement of the disease. In addition, in majority of papillary cancers tested, mutations of the genes encoding nuclear triiodothyronine receptors were found. Transgenic mice with both TRB allele replaced with dominant-negative TRB mutants develop aggressive thyroid cancers.
Progression from papillary to anaplastic cancer is most possibly caused by the occurrence of additional anomalies within P53, RAS, NM23,b-catenin gene and other genes.

Abstract

According to classic theory of neogenesis, cancer arises from well-differentiated cell that in response to variety of factors de-differentiates, becomes able to proliferate without control and/or loses its ability to undergo apoptosis. According to another theory, cancers (at least cancers of some organs) originate from stem cells, which „by definition” are poorly differentiated and able to proliferate indefinitely. Therefore a lower number of abnormal events is necessary for these cells to escape proliferation-controlling mechanisms. With regard to papillary thyroid cancers it is still thought that it arises from well-differentiated thyreocyte.
One of the characteristic features of cancer cell is chromosomal instability. Lowest number of such abnormalities is observed in well-differentiated thyroid cancers (including papillary cancer), intermediate – in poorly-differentiated cancers, while highest – in anaplastic cancers. Microarray analysis shows that despite of clinical heterogeneity, gene expression profiles of papillary cancers are very similar. Genetic anomalies predisposing to the development of papillary cancer most commonly regard proteins that possess kinase activity. Kinases phosphorylate other proteins, and play an extremely important role in signal transduction from outside the cell as well as inside the cell. Constitutive activation of some kinases may lead to the excessive and/or permanent activation of some transduction pathways specific for mitogens or growth factors. This results in excessive proliferation. The best known protein of such type which function is altered in papillary thyroid cancers is RET – a membrane-located growth factor-receptor with kinase activity. RET gene undergoes different rearrangements in this type of cancer. There are approximately 10 RET rearrangements known, with RET/PTC3 and RET/PTC1 being most common. In this anomaly kinase domain-encoding 3’ end of RET gene is aberrantly bound to 5’ end of another gene. Fusion protein synthesized on such hybrid template is not present in the cell membrane but in the cytoplasm, where it permanently activates transduction pathway specific for RET. NTRK1 gene encoding a member of family of neuronal growth factor receptors containing thyrosine kinase domain is also rearranged in papillary cancers. However, genes fused to its kinase domain-encoding sequence are different from the ones fused to RET. MET, a gene encoding another membrane protein with thyrosine kinase activity, which acts as a growth factor-receptor, is overexpressed in 70%-90% of papillary thyroid cancers.
BRAF gene encoding another yet kinase transducing signals from RAS and RAF to the cell is mutated at position 1796 (T/A, amino acid substitution V599E) in 38-69% of papillary cancers. The presence of this activatory mutation is associated with higher degree of clinical advancement of the disease. In addition, in majority of papillary cancers tested, mutations of the genes encoding nuclear triiodothyronine receptors were found. Transgenic mice with both TRB allele replaced with dominant-negative TRB mutants develop aggressive thyroid cancers.
Progression from papillary to anaplastic cancer is most possibly caused by the occurrence of additional anomalies within P53, RAS, NM23,b-catenin gene and other genes.
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Keywords

papillary thyroid cancer; chromosomal instability; genetic profile; protein kinases; signal transduction; rearrangement; mutation; RET; NTRK1; MET; BRAF; TR

About this article
Title

Genetic factors predisposing to the development of papillary thyroid cancer

Journal

Endokrynologia Polska

Issue

Vol 56, No 3 (2005)

Pages

339-345

Published online

2006-03-24

Bibliographic record

Endokrynologia Polska 2005;56(3):339-345.

Keywords

papillary thyroid cancer
chromosomal instability
genetic profile
protein kinases
signal transduction
rearrangement
mutation
RET
NTRK1
MET
BRAF
TR

Authors

Monika Puzianowska-Kuźnicka
Maciej Pietrzak

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