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Free access

Xiaoqi Lin, Sydney D Finkelstein, Bing Zhu and Jan F Silverman

Papillary thyroid carcinoma (PTC) frequently presents as a multifocal process. To study the importance of separating independent primary (IP) from intrathyroid metastatic (ITM) PTC, we examined 19 molecular markers on 42 separate tumors from 18 multifocal PTC cases. In 12 of 18 (66.7%) cases, including 6 of 12 (50%) papillary microcarcinoma cases, the same or similar profile of loss of heterozygosities (LOH) and v-raf murine sarcoma viral oncogene homolog B1 (BRAF) mutation was demonstrated, indicating that they were from the same primary and represented ITM. Different profiles of LOHs and BRAF mutation were detected in separate tumors of 6 of 18 cases, indicating that they represented IP. Patients with ITM, including papillary microcarcinoma, had significantly increased lymph node metastasis. The frequencies of LOHs of 17q21, 17p13, 10q23, and 22q13 were higher in tumors with lymph node metastasis, suggesting that these LOHs may be important in increased lymph node metastasis. LOH of 9p21 was found at the highest frequency in PTC (53.8%), followed by 1p36 (46.2%), 10q23 (34.6%), and 22q13 (34.6%). Papillary microcarcinoma had acquired similar genomic mutations as conventional PTC, but higher frequencies of mutations of BRAF, 1p36, 18q, and 22q13 were found in the larger PTC, suggesting that they might play a role in the aggressiveness of PTC. Different profiles of mutations were observed in conventional, follicular variants, and diffuse sclerosing variant of PTC, which might influence the different morphological appearances and clinical courses. In conclusion, molecular analysis can separate multifocal IP PTC from ITM PTC, and may be more important than tumor size in predicting lymph node metastasis, aggressiveness, and prognosis of PTC.

Free access

Cheryl A Conover and Claus Oxvig

The zinc metalloproteinase, PAPP-A, enhances local insulin-like growth factor (IGF) action through cleavage of inhibitory IGF-binding proteins, thereby increasing IGF available for IGF receptor-mediated cell proliferation, migration and survival. In many tumors, enhanced IGF receptor signaling is associated with tumor growth, invasion and metastasis. We will first discuss PAPP-A structure and function, and post-translational inhibitors of PAPP-A expression or proteolytic activity. We will then review the evidence supporting an important role for PAPP-A in many cancers, including breast, ovarian and lung cancer, and Ewing sarcoma.

Free access

Tram B Doan, J Dinny Graham and Christine L Clarke

Nuclear receptors (NRs) have been targets of intensive drug development for decades due to their roles as key regulators of multiple developmental, physiological and disease processes. In breast cancer, expression of the estrogen and progesterone receptor remains clinically important in predicting prognosis and determining therapeutic strategies. More recently, there is growing evidence supporting the involvement of multiple nuclear receptors other than the estrogen and progesterone receptors, in the regulation of various processes important to the initiation and progression of breast cancer. We review new insights into the mechanisms of action of NRs made possible by recent advances in genomic technologies and focus on the emerging functional roles of NRs in breast cancer biology, including their involvement in circadian regulation, metabolic reprogramming and breast cancer migration and metastasis.

Free access

Lacey M Litchfield and Carolyn M Klinge

Chicken ovalbumin upstream promoter transcription factor II (COUP-TFII) is an orphan nuclear receptor that acts as a transcriptional activator or repressor in a cell type-dependent manner. Best characterized for its role in the regulation of angiogenesis during mouse development, COUP-TFII also plays important roles in glucose metabolism and cancer. Expression of COUP-TFII is altered in various endocrine conditions. Cell type-specific functions and the regulation of COUP-TFII expression result in its varying physiological and pathological actions in diverse systems. Evidence will be reviewed for oncogenic and tumor-suppressive functions of COUP-TFII, with roles in angiogenesis, metastasis, steroidogenesis, and endocrine sensitivity of breast cancer described. The applicability of current data to our understanding of the role of COUP-TFII in cancer will be discussed.

Restricted access

V. Z. Mann, C. J. Newton and G. H. Tait


17β-Hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase (17β-HSD) is present in multiple forms in human breast tissue. One soluble form, with a molecular weight of approximately 35 kDa, was purified to near homogeneity from whole normal breast tissue. This form catalysed the oxidation of oestradiol and the reduction of oestrone, with NADP+ and NADPH as the preferred coenzymes. Three other soluble forms with higher molecular weights (in the range 50–80 kDa) were isolated. They catalysed the oxidation of oestradiol but not the reduction of oestrone, and all of them had properties very different from those of the low molecular weight enzyme.

Activities of 17β-HSD were measured in particulate and soluble fractions from normal breast adipose and non-adipose tissues, and from breast tumours obtained from post-menopausal women, in the oxidative direction with NAD+ and NADP+ as coenzymes and in the reductive direction with NADH and NADPH as coenzymes. Particulate fractions from tumours had much higher oxidative and reductive activities than those from normal tissues. Soluble fractions from tumours had higher oxidative activities than those from the normal tissues but similar reductive activities. The major soluble form of 17β-HSD in adipose tissue was the 35 kDa enzyme which had both oxidative and reductive activities. In contrast, the majority of the soluble activity in non-adipose tissue was due to enzymes, with molecular weights in the range 50–80 kDa, which had oxidative activity only. The soluble fractions of tumours, like those of non-adipose tissue, contained enzymes with molecular weights in the range 50–80 kDa. In addition, they contained a 35 kDa enzyme with properties different from those of the enzyme with the same molecular weight present in adipose tissue.

Free access

Kelly E Corcoran, Ashwani Malhotra, Carlos A Molina and Pranela Rameshwar

The chemokine Stromal-derived factor-1α (SDF-1α) interacts with seven transmembrane (TM) G-protein-coupled receptor (GPR), CXCR4. SDF-1α is linked to inflammation, chemoattraction, cancer metastasis, and hematopoiesis. Tachykinin (Tac1) peptides bind seven transmembrane (TM), GPR and are involved in tumor promotion. SDF-1α regulates Tac1 expression in non-tumorigenic breast cells through a bimodal pattern with repression at high levels through nuclear factor-kappa B (NFκB) activation. This study focuses on the mechanism of activation at low SDF-1α in MCF12A non-tumorigenic breast cells. Reporter gene assays with the 5′ flanking region of Tac1 (exon 1 omitted) and co-transfection with the repressor of cAMP response element (CREB) (ICER), and transfection with the CRE sites mutated, verified critical roles for CRE sites in SDF-1α-mediated Tac1 activation. Western blots and functional assays with specific inhibitors indicated that SDF-1α phosphorylated CREB (P-CREB) via Gαi2-PI3K-protein kinase C (PKC)ζ-p38-extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK) and no evidence of cAMP–PKA pathway. This observation is different from previous studies that reported CREB-phosphorylated PKA pathway in the activation of Tac1 in bone marrow stromal cells. This suggests cell specificity in Tac1 expression. In conclusion, this study reports on a non-canonical pathway in Tac1 activation by SDF-1α. This finding is significant, since Tac1 is relevant to breast cancer metastasis, to bone marrow where stromal cells have a significant facilitating function.

Free access

Matthias S Dettmer, Aurel Perren, Holger Moch, Paul Komminoth, Yuri E Nikiforov and Marina N Nikiforova

The diagnosis of conventional and oncocytic poorly differentiated (oPD) thyroid carcinomas is difficult. The aim of this study is to characterise their largely unknown miRNA expression profile and to compare it with well-differentiated thyroid tumours, as well as to identify miRNAs which could potentially serve as diagnostic and prognostic markers. A total of 14 poorly differentiated (PD), 13 oPD, 72 well-differentiated thyroid carcinomas and eight normal thyroid specimens were studied for the expression of 768 miRNAs using PCR-Microarrays. MiRNA expression was different between PD and oPD thyroid carcinomas, demonstrating individual clusters on the clustering analysis. Both tumour types showed upregulation of miR-125a-5p, -15a-3p, -182, -183-3p, -222, -222-5p, and downregulation of miR-130b, -139-5p, -150, -193a-5p, -219-5p, -23b, -451, -455-3p and of miR-886-3p as compared with normal thyroid tissue. In addition, the oPD thyroid carcinomas demonstrated upregulation of miR-221 and miR-885-5p. The difference in expression was also observed between miRNA expression in PD and well-differentiated tumours. The CHAID algorithm allowed the separation of PD from well-differentiated thyroid carcinomas with 73–79% accuracy using miR-23b and miR-150 as a separator. Kaplan–Meier and multivariate analysis showed a significant association with tumour relapses (for miR-23b) and with tumour-specific death (for miR-150) in PD and oPD thyroid carcinomas. MiRNA expression is different in conventional and oPD thyroid carcinomas in comparison with well-differentiated thyroid cancers and can be used for discrimination between these tumour types. The newly identified deregulated miRNAs (miR-150, miR-23b) bear the potential to be used in a clinical setting, delivering prognostic and diagnostic informations.

Free access

Meghan S Perkins, Renate Louw-du Toit and Donita Africander

Although hormone therapy is widely used by millions of women to relieve symptoms of menopause, it has been associated with several side effects such as coronary heart disease, stroke and increased invasive breast cancer risk. These side effects have caused many women to seek alternatives to conventional hormone therapy, including the controversial custom-compounded bioidentical hormone therapy suggested to not increase breast cancer risk. Historically, estrogens and the estrogen receptor were considered the principal factors promoting breast cancer development and progression; however, a role for other members of the steroid receptor family in breast cancer pathogenesis is now evident, with emerging studies revealing an interplay between some steroid receptors. In this review, we discuss examples of hormone therapy used for the relief of menopausal symptoms, highlighting the distinction between conventional hormone therapy and custom-compounded bioidentical hormone therapy. Moreover, we highlight the fact that not all hormones have been evaluated for an association with increased breast cancer risk. We also summarize the current knowledge regarding the role of steroid receptors in mediating the carcinogenic effects of hormones used in menopausal hormone therapy, with special emphasis on the influence of the interplay or crosstalk between steroid receptors. Unraveling the intertwined nature of steroid hormone receptor signaling pathways in breast cancer biology is of utmost importance, considering that breast cancer is the most prevalent cancer among women worldwide. Moreover, understanding these mechanisms may reveal novel prevention or treatment options and lead to the development of new hormone therapies that do not cause increased breast cancer risk.

Free access

Simona Mencej-Bedrač, Janez Preželj, Tomaž Kocjan, Karmen Teskač, Barbara Ostanek, Mojca Šmelcer and Janja Marc

1α,25-dihydroxyvitamin D3 upregulates tumour necrosis factor superfamily member 11 (TNFSF11) that codes for the receptor activator of nuclear factor κB ligand (RANKL), and downregulates osteoprotegerin (OPG) expression. We have analyzed the individual effects of polymorphisms in the vitamin D receptor gene (VDR), OPG and TNFSF11, and searched for interactions between them. Six hundred and forty one subjects were evaluated: 239 osteoporotic and 228 non-osteoporotic post-menopausal, 57 pre-menopausal women and 117 elderly men. The subjects were genotyped for BsmI, FokI and Cdx2 in VDR, K3N in OPG and −290C>T, −643C>T and −693G>C in TNFSF11 gene. Bone mineral density (BMD) and biochemical markers were measured. In the osteoporotic women, femoral neck BMD (BMD-fn) showed associations with BsmI(VDR) and Cdx2(VDR) (P=0.015 and 0.047 respectively), and lumbar spine BMD (BMD-ls) with K3N(OPG) and −290C>T(TNFSF11) (P=0.021 and 0.017). No association with BMD was found in the non-osteoporotic women. In the pre-menopausal women, the Cdx2(VDR) polymorphism was associated with BMD-fn and total hip BMD (P=0.011 and 0.011). In elderly men, FokI(VDR) was associated with BMD-fn and BMD-ls (P=0.040 and 0.036). Interestingly, the −290C>T(TNFSF11)-K3N(OPG) combination was associated with BMD-th (P=0.041) in the osteoporotic women. In the non-osteoporotic women, the combination K3N(OPG)-Cdx2(VDR) was associated with BMD-ls, BMD-th and BMD-fn (P=0.032, 0.049 and 0.022), and the combination −290C>T(TNFSF11)-K3N(OPG) with BMD-fn (P=0.029). For the first time, the presence of gene–gene interactions between VDR, OPG and TNFSF11 genes was studied. Our results strongly suggest further confirmation of their combined influence on larger cohorts.

Free access

Hong Zhao, Ling Zhou, Anna Junjie Shangguan and Serdar E Bulun

Long-term exposure to excess estrogen increases the risk of breast cancer and type 1 endometrial cancer. Most of the estrogen in premenopausal women is synthesized by the ovaries, while extraovarian subcutaneous adipose tissue is the predominant tissue source of estrogen after menopause. Estrogen and its metabolites can cause hyperproliferation and neoplastic transformation of breast and endometrial cells via increased proliferation and DNA damage. Several genetically modified mouse models have been generated to help understand the physiological and pathophysiological roles of aromatase and estrogen in the normal breast and in the development of breast cancers. Aromatase, the key enzyme for estrogen production, is comprised of at least ten partially tissue-selective and alternatively used promoters. These promoters are regulated by distinct signaling pathways to control aromatase expression and estrogen formation via recruitment of various transcription factors to their cis-regulatory elements. A shift in aromatase promoter use from I.4 to I.3/II is responsible for the excess estrogen production seen in fibroblasts surrounding malignant epithelial cells in breast cancers. Targeting these distinct pathways and/or transcription factors to modify aromatase activity may lead to the development of novel therapeutic remedies that inhibit estrogen production in a tissue-specific manner.