Association studies suggest that the thyroid hormone receptor β1 (TRβ1) could function as a tumor suppressor in cancer cells. However, the underlying molecular mechanisms remain to be elucidated. We explored how TRβ1 acted as a tumor suppressor in breast cancer MDA cells. Proliferation and invasiveness were markedly inhibited in cells stably expressing TRβ1 (MDA-TRβ1 cells). cSrc-phosphorylated TRβ1 at Y406 signaled T3-induced degradation. Mutation of Y406 to Phe (TRβ1Y406F) did not affect T3 binding affinity, but blocked T3-induced degradation in cells. Importantly, cell-based studies showed that TRβ1Y406F lost the inhibitory effects by TRβ1 on cell proliferation and invasion. Consistently, in xenograft models, MDA-TRβ1 cells exhibited significantly slower tumor growth rates than those of Neo control cells. In contrast, the tumor growth rates of MDA-TRβ1Y406F cells were indistinguishable from those of Neo control cells. We further showed that markedly more TRβ1Y406F than TRβ1 was physically associated with cSrc in cells, leading to constitutive activation of cSrc-FAK-ERK signaling. In contrast, degradation of T3-bound TRβ1 complexed with cSrc attenuated signaling to decrease cell proliferation and invasiveness, thus confirming TRβ1 as a tumor suppressor. Thus, the present studies suggested that TRβ1 could be tested as a novel potential therapeutic target.
cSrc signaling; phosphorylation of thyroid hormone receptor β1; tumor suppressor; breast cancer cells; xenograft models
Thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH)-secreting tumors (TSH-omas) are pituitary tumors that constitutively secrete TSH. The molecular genetics underlying this abnormality are not known. We discovered that a knockin mouse harboring a mutated thyroid hormone receptor (TR) β (PV; TRβPV/PV mouse) spontaneously developed TSH-omas. TRβPV/PV mice lost the negative feedback regulation with highly elevated TSH levels associated with increased thyroid hormone levels (3,3′,5-triiodo-l-thyronine [T3]). Remarkably, we found that mice deficient in all TRs (TRα1−/− TRβ−/−) had similarly increased T3 and TSH levels, but no discernible TSH-omas, indicating that the dysregulation of the pituitary-thyroid axis alone is not sufficient to induce TSH-omas. Comparison of gene expression profiles by cDNA microarrays identified overexpression of cyclin D1 mRNA in TRβPV/PV but not in TRα1−/− TRβ−/− mice. Overexpression of cyclin D1 protein led to activation of the cyclin D1/cyclin-dependent kinase/retinoblastoma protein/E2F pathway only in TRβPV/PV mice. The liganded TRβ repressed cyclin D1 expression via tethering to the cyclin D1 promoter through binding to the cyclic AMP response element-binding protein. That repression effect was lost in mutant PV, thereby resulting in constitutive activation of cyclin D1 in TRβPV/PV mice. The present study revealed a novel molecular mechanism by which an unliganded TRβ mutant acts to contribute to pituitary tumorigenesis in vivo and provided mechanistic insights into the understanding of pathogenesis of TSH-omas in patients.
Thyroid hormone (T3) is critical in growth, development, differentiation, and maintenance of metabolic homeostasis. Recent studies suggest that thyroid hormone receptors (TRs) not only mediate the biological activities of T3 via nucleus-initiated transcription, but also could act via nongenomic pathways. The striking phenotype of thyroid cancer exhibited by a knockin mutant mouse that harbors a dominant negative TRβ mutant (TRβPV/PV mouse) allows the elucidation of novel oncogenic activity of a TRβ mutant (PV) via extra-nuclear actions. PV physically interacts with the regulatory p85α subunit of phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (PI3K) to activate the downstream AKT-mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) and p70S6K and PI3K-integrin-linked kinase-matrix metalloproteinase-2 signaling pathways. The PV-mediated PI3K activation results in increased cell proliferation, motility, migration, and metastasis. Remarkably, a nuclear receptor corepressor (NCoR) was found to regulate the PV-activated PI3K signaling by competing with PV for binding to the C-terminal SH2 domain of p85α. Overexpression of NCoR in thyroid tumor cells of TRβPV/PV mice reduces AKT-mTOR- p70S6K signaling. Conversely, lowering cellular NCoR by siRNA knockdown in tumor cells leads to over-activated PI3K-AKT signaling to increase cell proliferation and motility. Furthermore, NCoR protein levels are significantly lower in thyroid tumor cells than in wild type thyrocytes, allowing more effective binding of PV to p85α to activate PI3K signaling, thereby contributing to tumor progression. Thus, PV, an apo-TRβ, could act via direct protein-protein interaction to mediate critical oncogenic actions. These studies also uncovered a novel extra-nuclear role of NCoR in modulating the nongenomic actions of a mutated TRβ in controlling thyroid carcinogenesis.
thyroid hormone receptors; phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase; pituitary tumor transforming gene; steroid hormone receptor coactivator-3; nongenomic actions; thyroid hormone receptor mutants; mouse model; thyroid cancer; carcinogenesis
We previously created a knock-in mutant mouse harboring a dominantly negative mutant thyroid hormone receptor β (TRβPV/PV mouse) that spontaneously develops a follicular thyroid carcinoma similar to human thyroid cancer. We found that β-catenin, which plays a critical role in oncogenesis, was highly elevated in thyroid tumors of TRβPV/PV mice. We sought to understand the molecular basis underlying aberrant accumulation of β-catenin by mutations of TRβ in vivo. Cell-based studies showed that thyroid hormone (T3) induced the degradation of β-catenin in cells expressing TRβ via proteasomal pathways. In contrast, no T3-induced degradation occurred in cells expressing the mutant receptor (TRβPV). In vitro binding studies and cell-based analyses revealed that β-catenin physically associated with unliganded TRβ or TRβPV. However, in the presence of T3, β-catenin was dissociated from TRβ-β-catenin complexes but not from TRβPV-β-catenin complexes. β-Catenin signaling was repressed by T3 in TRβ-expressing cells through decreasing β-catenin-mediated transcription activity and target gene expression, whereas sustained β-catenin signaling was observed in TRβPV-expressing cells. The stabilization of β-catenin, via association with a mutated TRβ, represents a novel activating mechanism of the oncogenic protein β-catenin that could contribute to thyroid carcinogenesis in TRβPV/PV mice.
Association studies suggest that thyroid hormone receptor β (TRβ) could function as a tumor suppressor in breast cancer development, but unequivocal evidence is still lacking. To understand the role of TRβ in breast tumor development, we adopted the gain-of-function approach by stably expressing the THRB gene in a human breast cancer cell line, MCF-7 (MCF-7-TRβ). Parental MCF-7 cells express the estrogen receptor, but not TRs. MCF-7 cells, stably expressing only the selectable marker, the Neo gene, were also generated as control for comparison (MCF-7-Neo cells). Cell-based studies indicate that the estrogen (E2)-dependent growth of MCF-7 cells was inhibited by the expression of TRβ in the presence of the thyroid hormone (T3). In a xenograft mouse model, large tumors rapidly developed after inoculation of MCF-7-Neo cells in athymic mice. In contrast, markedly smaller tumors (98% smaller) were found when MCF-7-TRβ cells were inoculated in athymic mice, indicating that TRβ inhibited the E2-dependent tumor growth of MCF-7 cells. Further detailed molecular analysis showed that TRβ acted to activate apoptosis and decrease proliferation of tumor cells, resulting in inhibition of tumor growth. The TRβ-mediated inhibition of tumor growth was elucidated via down-regulation of the JAK-STAT-cyclin D pathways. This in vivo evidence shows that TRβ could act as a tumor suppressor in breast tumorigenesis. The present study provides new insights into the role of TR in breast cancer.
Thyroid hormone receptor beta; tumor suppressor; tumorigenesis; STAT signaling; MCF-7 cells
The thyroid hormone receptors (TRs) are transcription factors that mediate the pleiotropic activities of the thyroid hormone, T3. Four T3-binding isoforms, TRα1, TRβ1, TRβ2, and TRβ3, are encoded by two genes, THRA and THRB. Mutations and altered expression of TRs have been reported in human cancers. A targeted germline mutation of the Thrβ gene in the mouse leads to spontaneous development of follicular thyroid carcinoma (TRβPV/PV mouse). The TRβPV mutant has lost T3 binding activity and displays potent dominant negative activity. The striking phenotype of thyroid cancer exhibited by TRβPV/PV mice has recently led to the discovery of novel non-genomic actions of TRβPV that contribute to thyroid carcinogenesis. These actions involve direct physical interaction of TRβPV with cellular proteins, namely the regulatory subunit of the phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (p85α), the pituitary tumor-transforming gene (PTTG) and β-catenin, that are critically involved in cell proliferation, motility, migration, and metastasis. Thus, a TRβ mutant (TRβPV), via a novel mode of non-genomic action, acts as an oncogene in thyroid carcinogenesis.
thyroid hormone receptor mutants; thyroid cancer; non-genomic action; phosphatidylinositol 3 kinase; pituitary tumor transforming gene; β-catenin; mouse model
Thyroid hormone receptor (TR) mediates the crucial effects of the thyroid hormone (T3) on cellular growth, development, and differentiation. Decreased expression or inactivating somatic mutations of TRs have been found in human cancers of the liver, breast, lung, and thyroid. The mechanisms of TR-associated carcinogenesis are still not clear. To establish the function of TRβ in thyroid cancer cell proliferation, we constructed a recombinant adenovirus vector, AdTRβ, which expresses human TRβ1 cDNA. Thyroid cancer cell lines in which TRβ protein levels were significantly decreased as compared to intact thyroid tissues were infected with AdTRβ and the function of TRβ on cell proliferation and migration was analyzed. Ligand-bound TRβ induced HDAC1 and HDAC3 dissociation from, and histone acetylation associated with the RhoB promoter and enhanced the expression of RhoB mRNA and protein. In AdTRβ-infected cells, T3 and farnesyl transferase inhibitor (FTI)-treatment induced the distribution of RhoB on the cell membrane and enhanced the abundance of active GTP-bound RhoB. This RhoB protein led to p21-associated cell-cycle arrest in the G0/G1 phase, following inhibition of cell proliferation and invasion. Conversely, lowering cellular RhoB by small interfering RNA knockdown in AdTRβ-infected cells led to downregulation of p21 and inhibited cell-cycle arrest. The growth of BHP18-21v tumor xenografts in
vivo was significantly inhibited by AdTRβ injection with FTIs-treatment, as compared to control virus-injected tumors. This novel signaling pathway triggered by ligand-bound TRβ provides insight into possible mechanisms of proliferation and invasion of thyroid cancer and may provide new therapeutic targets for thyroid cancers.
Study of molecular actions of thyroid hormone receptor β (TRβ) mutants in vivo has been facilitated by creation of a mouse model (TRβPV mouse) that harbors a knockin mutant of TRβ (denoted PV). PV, which was identified in a patient with resistance to thyroid hormone, has lost T3 binding activity and transcription capacity. The striking phenotype of thyroid cancer exhibited by TRβPV/PV mice has allowed the elucidation of novel oncogenic activity of a TRβ mutant (PV) [PAS1]beyond nucleus-initiated transcription. PV was found to physically interact with the regulatory p85α subunit of phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (PI3K) in both the nuclear and cytoplasmic compartments. This protein-protein interaction activates the PI3K signaling by increasing phosphorylation of AKT, mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR), and p70S6K. PV, via interaction with p85α, also activates the PI3K-integrin-linked kinase-matrix metalloproteinase-2 signaling pathway in the extra-nuclear compartment. The PV-mediated PI3K activation results in increased cell proliferation, motility, migration, and metastasis.
In addition to affecting these membrane-initiated signaling events, PV affects [PAS2]the stability of the pituitary tumor-transforming gene (PTTG) product. PTTG (also known as securin), a critical mitotic checkpoint protein, is physically associated with TRβ or PV in vivo. Concomitant with T3-induced degradation of TRβ, PTTG is degraded by the proteasome machinery, but no such degradation occurs when PTTG is associated with PV. The degradation of PTTG/TRβ is activated by the direct interaction of the T3-bound TRβ with the steroid receptor coactivator-3 (SRC-3) that recruits a proteasome activator (PA28γ). PV that does not bind T3 cannot interact directly with SRC-3/PA28γ to activate proteasome degradation, and the absence of degradation results in an aberrant accumulation of PTTG. The PV-induced failure of timely degradation of PTTG results in mitotic abnormalities. PV, via novel protein-protein interaction and transcription regulation, acts to antagonize the functions of wild-type TRs and contributes to the oncogenic functions of this mutation.
thyroid hormone receptors; phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase; pituitary tumor transforming gene; steroid hormone receptor coactivator-3; nongenomic actions; thyroid hormone receptor mutants; mouse model; thyroid cancer; carcinogenesis
Correlative data suggest that thyroid hormone receptor-β (TRβ) mutations could increase the risk of mammary tumor development, but unequivocal evidence is still lacking. To explore the role of TRβ mutants in vivo in breast tumor development and progression, we took advantage of a knock-in mouse model harboring a mutation in the Thrb gene encoding TRβ (ThrbPV mouse). Although in adult nulliparous females, a single ThrbPV allele did not contribute to mammary gland abnormalities, the presence of two ThrbPV alleles led to mammary hyperplasia in ~36% ThrbPV/PV mice. The ThrbPV mutation further markedly augmented the risk of mammary hyperplasia in a mouse model with high susceptibility to mammary tumors (Pten+/− mouse), as demonstrated by the occurrence of mammary hyperplasia in ~60% of Thrbpv/+Pten+/− and ~77% of ThrbPV/PV Pten+/− mice versus ~33% of Thrb+/+Pten+/− mice. The ThrbPV mutation increased the activity of signal transducer and activator of transcription (STAT5) to increase cell proliferation and the expression of the STAT5 target gene encoding β-casein in the mammary gland. We next sought to understand the molecular mechanism underlying STAT5 overactivation by TRβPV. Cell-based studies with a breast cancer cell line (T47D cells) showed that thyroid hormone (T3) repressed STAT5 signaling in TRβ-expressing cells through decreasing STAT5-mediated transcription activity and target gene expression, whereas sustained STAT5 signaling was observed in TRβPV-expressing cells. Collectively, these findings show for the first time that a TRβ mutation promotes the development of mammary hyperplasia via aberrant activation of STAT5, thereby conferring a fertile genetic ground for tumorigenesis.
thyroid hormone receptor; breast cancer; mammary tumors; Pten; mouse models
The THRB gene encodes the well-described thyroid hormone (T3) receptor (TR) isoforms TRβ1 and TRβ2 and two additional variants, TRβ3 and TRΔβ3, of unknown physiological significance. TRβ1, TRβ2, and TRβ3 are bona fide T3 receptors that bind DNA and T3 and regulate expression of T3-responsive target genes. TRΔβ3 retains T3 binding activity but lacks a DNA binding domain and does not activate target gene transcription. TRΔβ3 can be translated from a specific TRΔβ3 mRNA or is coexpressed with TRβ3 from a single transcript that contains an internal TRΔβ3 translation start site. In these studies, we provide evidence that the TRβ3/Δβ3 locus is present in rat but not in other vertebrates, including humans. We compared the activity of TRβ3 with other TR isoforms and investigated mechanisms of action of TRΔβ3 at specific thyroid hormone response elements (TREs) in two cell types. TRβ3 was the most potent isoform, but TR potency was TRE dependent. TRΔβ3 acted as a cell-specific and TRE-dependent modulator of TRβ3 when coexpressed at low concentrations. At higher concentrations, TRΔβ3 was a TRE-selective and cell-specific antagonist of TRα1, -β1, and -β3. Both TRβ3 and TRΔβ3 were expressed in the nucleus in the absence and presence of hormone, and their actions were determined by cell type and TRE structure, whereas TRΔβ3 actions were also dependent on the TR isoform with which it interacted. Analysis of these complex responses implicates a range of nuclear corepressors and coactivators as cell-, TR isoform-, and TRE-specific modulators of T3 action.
Inactivation and silencing of PTEN have been observed in multiple cancers, including follicular thyroid carcinoma. PTEN (phosphatase and tensin homologue deleted from chromosome 10) functions as a tumour suppressor by opposing the phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (PI3K)/protein kinase B (AKT) signalling pathway. Despite correlative data, how deregulated PTEN signalling leads to thyroid carcinogenesis is not known. Mice harbouring a dominant-negative mutant thyroid hormone receptor β (TRβPV/PV mice) spontaneously develop follicular thyroid carcinoma and distant metastases similar to human cancer. To elucidate the role of PTEN in thyroid carcinogenesis, we generated TRβPV/PV mice haploinsufficient for Pten (TRβPV/PVPten+/− mouse). PTEN deficiency accelerated the progression of thyroid tumour and increased the occurrence of metastasis spread to the lung in TRβPV/PVPten+/− mice, thereby significantly reducing their survival as compared with TRβPV/PVPten+/+ mice. AKT activation was further increased by two-fold in TRβPV/PVPten+/− mice thyroids, leading to increased activity of the downstream mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR)–p70S6K signalling and decreased activity of the forkhead family member FOXO3a. Consistently, cyclin D1 expression was increased. Apoptosis was decreased as indicated by increased expression of nuclear factor-κB (NF-κB) and decreased caspase-3 activity in the thyroids of TRβPV/PVPten+/− mice. Our results indicate that PTEN deficiency resulted in increased cell proliferation and survival in the thyroids of TRβPV/PVPten+/− mice. Altogether, our study provides direct evidence to indicate that in vivo, PTEN is a critical regulator in the follicular thyroid cancer progression and invasiveness.
thyroid cancer; Pten; carcinogenesis; mouse model; mutations
Overexpression of pituitary tumor–transforming 1 (PTTG1) is associated with thyroid cancer. We found elevated PTTG1 levels in the thyroid tumors of a mouse model of follicular thyroid carcinoma (TRβPV/PV mice). Here we examined the molecular mechanisms underlying elevated PTTG1 levels and the contribution of increased PTTG1 to thyroid carcinogenesis. We showed that PTTG1 was physically associated with thyroid hormone β receptor (TRβ) as well as its mutant, designated PV. Concomitant with thyroid hormone–induced (T3-induced) degradation of TRβ, PTTG1 proteins were degraded by the proteasomal machinery, but no such degradation occurred when PTTG1 was associated with PV. The degradation of PTTG1/TRβ was activated by the direct interaction of the liganded TRβ with steroid receptor coactivator 3 (SRC-3), which recruits proteasome activator PA28γ. PV, which does not bind T3, could not interact directly with SRC-3/PA28γ to activate proteasome degradation, resulting in elevated PTTG1 levels. The accumulated PTTG1 impeded mitotic progression in cells expressing PV. Our results unveil what we believe to be a novel mechanism by which PTTG1, an oncogene, is regulated by the liganded TRβ. The loss of this regulatory function in PV led to an aberrant accumulation of PTTG1 disrupting mitotic progression that could contribute to thyroid carcinogenesis.
The thyroid hormone triiodothyronine (T3) has a profound effect on growth, differentiation, and metabolism in higher organisms. Here we demonstrate that T3 inhibits ras-induced proliferation in neuroblastoma cells and blocks induction of cyclin D1 expression by the oncogene. The hormone, at physiological concentrations, strongly antagonizes the transcriptional response mediated by the Ras/mitogen-activated protein kinase/ribosomal-S6 subunit kinase (Rsk) signaling pathway in cells expressing thyroid hormone receptors (TRs). T3 blocks the response to the oncogenic forms of the three ras isoforms (H-, K-, and N-ras) and both TRα and TRβ can mediate this action. The main target for induction of cyclin D1 transcription by oncogenic ras in neuroblastoma cells is a cyclic AMP response element (CRE) located in proximal promoter sequences, and T3 represses the transcriptional activity of b-Zip transcription factors such as CREB (CRE-binding protein) or ATF-2 (activation transcription factor 2) that are direct targets of Rsk2 and bind to this sequence. The hormone also blocks fibroblast transformation by oncogenic ras when TR is expressed. Furthermore, TRs act as suppressors of tumor formation by the oncogene in vivo in nude mice. The TRβ isoform has stronger antitransforming properties than the α isoform and can inhibit tumorigenesis even in hypothyroid mice. These results show the existence of a previously unrecognized transcriptional cross talk between the TRs and the ras oncogene which influences relevant processes such as cell proliferation, transformation, or tumorigenesis.
The thyroid hormone, T3, plays important roles in metabolism, growth, and differentiation. Germline mutations in thyroid hormone receptor beta (TRβ) have been identified in many individuals with resistance to thyroid hormone, a syndrome of reduced sensitivity to T3. A close association of somatic mutations of TRβ with several human cancers has become increasingly apparent, but how TRβ mutants could be involved in the carcinogenesis in vivo has not been addressed. The creation of a mouse model (TRβPV/PV mouse) that harbors a knockin mutation of TRβ (denoted TRβPV) has facilitated the study of the molecular actions of TRβ mutants in vivo. The striking phenotype of thyroid cancer and the development of pituitary tumors exhibited by TRβPV/PV mice have uncovered novel functions of a TRβ mutant in tumorigenesis. It led to the important findings that the oncogenic action of TRβPV is mediated by both genomic and non-genomic actions to alter gene expression and signaling pathways activity.
thyroid hormone receptor mutants; thyroid cancer; pituitary tumor; non-genomic action; TRβPV; phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase; pituitary tumor transforming gene; β-catenin
MYH7 (also referred to as cardiac myosin heavy chain β) gene expression is known to be repressed by thyroid hormone (T3). However, the molecular mechanism by which T3 inhibits the transcription of its target genes (negative regulation) remains to be clarified, whereas those of transcriptional activation by T3 (positive regulation) have been elucidated in detail. Two MCAT (muscle C, A, and T) sites and an A/T-rich region in the MYH7 gene have been shown to play a critical role in the expression of this gene and are known to be recognized by the TEAD/TEF family of transcription factors (TEADs). Using a reconstitution system with CV-1 cells, which has been utilized in the analysis of positive as well as negative regulation, we demonstrate that both T3 receptor (TR) β1 and α1 inhibit TEAD-dependent activation of the MYH7 promoter in a T3 dose-dependent manner. TRβ1 bound with GC-1, a TRβ-selective T3 analog, also repressed TEAD-induced activity. Although T3-dependent inhibition required the DNA-binding domain (DBD) of TRβ1, it remained after the putative negative T3-responsive elements were mutated. A co-immunoprecipitation study demonstrated the in vivo association of TRβ1 with TEAD-1, and the interaction surfaces were mapped to the DBD of the TRβ1 and TEA domains of TEAD-1, both of which are highly conserved among TRs and TEADs, respectively. The importance of TEADs in MYH7 expression was also validated with RNA interference using rat embryonic cardiomyocyte H9c2 cells. These results indicate that T3-bound TRs interfere with transactivation by TEADs via protein-protein interactions, resulting in the negative regulation of MYH7 promoter activity.
Studies have suggested that the nuclear receptor corepressor 1 (NCOR1) could play an important role in human cancers. However, the detailed molecular mechanisms by which it functions in vivo to affect cancer progression are not clear. The present study elucidated the in vivo actions of NCOR1 in carcinogenesis using a mouse model (ThrbPV/PV mice) that spontaneously develops thyroid cancer. ThrbPV/PV mice harbor a dominantly negative thyroid hormone receptor β (TRβ) mutant (denoted as PV). We adopted the loss-of-the function approach by crossing ThrbPV mice with mice that globally express an NCOR1 mutant protein (NCOR1ΔID) in which the receptor interaction domains have been modified so that it cannot interact with the TRβ, or PV, in mice. Remarkably, expression of NCOR1ΔID protein reduced thyroid tumor growth, markedly delayed tumor progression, and prolonged survival of ThrbPV/PVNcor1ΔID/ΔID mice. Tumor cell proliferation was inhibited by increased expression of cyclin-dependent kinase inhibitor 1 (p21waf1/cip1; Cdkn1A), and apoptosis was activated by elevated expression of pro-apoptotic BCL-Associated X (Bax). Further analyses showed that p53 was recruited to the p53-binding site on the proximal promoter of the Cdkn1A and the Bax gene as a co-repressor complex with PV/NCOR1/histone deacetylas-3 (HDAC-3), leading to repression of the Cdkn1A as well as the Bax gene in thyroids of ThrbPV/PV mice. In thyroids of ThrbPV/PVNcor1ΔID/ΔID mice, the p53/PV complex could not recruit NCOR1ΔID and HDAC-3, leading to de-repression of both genes to inhibit cancer progression. The present studies provided direct evidence in vivo that NCOR1 could function as an oncogene via transcription regulation in a mouse model of thyroid cancer.
Gene-expression analysis in cerebellum, heart and white adipose tissue from a knock-in mouse that harbors a human mutation and faithfully reproduces human resistance to thyroid hormone, uncovered complex multiple signaling pathways that mediate the molecular actions of TRβ mutants in vivo.
Resistance to thyroid hormone (RTH) is caused by mutations of the thyroid hormone receptor β (TRβ) gene. To understand the transcriptional program underlying TRβ mutant-induced phenotypic expression of RTH, cDNA microarrays were used to profile the expression of 11,500 genes in a mouse model of human RTH.
We analyzed transcript levels in cerebellum, heart and white adipose tissue from a knock-in mouse (TRβPV/PV mouse) that harbors a human mutation (referred to as PV) and faithfully reproduces human RTH. Because TRβPV/PV mice have elevated thyroid hormone (T3), to define T3-responsive genes in the context of normal TRβ, we also analyzed T3 effects in hyperthyroid wild-type gender-matched littermates. Microarray analysis revealed 163 genes responsive to T3 treatment and 187 genes differentially expressed between TRβPV/PV mice and wild-type littermates. Both the magnitude and gene make-up of the transcriptional response varied widely across tissues and conditions. We identified genes modulated in T3-dependent PV-independent, T3- and PV-dependent, and T3-independent PV-dependent pathways that illuminated the biological consequences of PV action in vivo. Most T3-responsive genes that were dysregulated in the heart and white adipose tissue of TRβPV/PV mice were repressed in T3-treated wild-type mice and upregulated in TRβPV/PV mice, suggesting the inappropriate activation of T3-suppressed genes in RTH.
Comprehensive multi-tissue gene-expression analysis uncovered complex multiple signaling pathways that mediate the molecular actions of TRβ mutants in vivo. In particular, the T3-independent mutant-dependent genomic response unveiled the contribution of a novel 'change-of-function' of TRβ mutants to the pathogenesis of RTH. Thus, the molecular actions of TRβ mutants are more complex than previously envisioned.
The nuclear receptor corepressor (NCoR) regulates the activities of DNA-binding transcription factors. Recent observations of its distribution in the extranuclear compartment raised the possibility that it could have other cellular functions in addition to transcription repression. We previously showed that phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (PI3K) signaling is aberrantly activated by a mutant thyroid hormone β receptor (TRβPV, hereafter referred to as PV) via physical interaction with p85α, thus contributing to thyroid carcinogenesis in a mouse model of follicular thyroid carcinoma (TRβPV/PV mouse). Since NCoR is known to modulate the actions of TRβ mutants in vivo and in vitro, we asked whether NCoR regulates PV-activated PI3K signaling. Remarkably, we found that NCoR physically interacted with and competed with PV for binding to the C-terminal SH2 (Src homology 2) domain of p85α, the regulatory subunit of PI3K. Confocal fluorescence microscopy showed that both NCoR and p85α were localized in the nuclear as well as in the cytoplasmic compartments. Overexpression of NCoR in thyroid tumor cells of TRβPV/PV mouse reduced PI3K signaling, as indicated by the decrease in the phosphorylation of its immediate downstream effector, p-AKT. Conversely, lowering cellular NCoR by siRNA knockdown in tumor cells led to overactivated p-AKT and increased cell proliferation and motility. Furthermore, NCoR protein levels were significantly lower in thyroid tumor cells than in wild-type thyrocytes, allowing more effective binding of PV to p85α to activate PI3K signaling and thus contributing to tumor progression. Taken together, these results indicate that NCoR, via protein-protein interaction, is a novel regulator of PI3K signaling and could serve to modulate thyroid tumor progression.
Undifferentiated thyroid carcinoma is one of the most aggressive human cancers with frequent RAS mutations. How mutations of the RAS gene contribute to undifferentiated thyroid cancer remains largely unknown. Mice harboring a potent dominant negative mutant thyroid hormone receptor β, TRβPV (ThrbPV/PV), spontaneously develop well-differentiated follicular thyroid cancer similar to human cancer. We genetically targeted the KrasG12D mutation to thyroid epithelial cells of ThrbPV/PV mice to understand how KrasG12D mutation could induce undifferentiated thyroid cancer in ThrbPV/PVKrasG12D mice. ThrbPV/PVKrasG12D mice exhibited poorer survival due to more aggressive thyroid tumors with capsular invasion, vascular invasion, and distant metastases to the lung occurring at an earlier age and at a higher frequency than ThrbPV/PV mice did. Importantly, ThrbPV/PVKrasG12D mice developed frequent anaplastic foci with complete loss of normal thyroid follicular morphology. Within the anaplastic foci, the thyroid-specific transcription factor paired box gene 8 (PAX8) expression was virtually lost and the loss of PAX8 expression was inversely correlated with elevated MYC expression. Consistently, co-expression of KRASG12D with TRβPV upregulated MYC levels in rat thyroid pccl3 cells, and MYC acted to enhance the TRβPV-mediated repression of the Pax8 promoter activity of a distant upstream enhancer, critical for thyroid-specific Pax8 expression. Our findings indicated that synergistic signaling of KRASG12D and TRβPV led to increased MYC expression. Upregulated MYC contributes to the initiation of undifferentiated thyroid cancer, in part, through enhancing TRβPV-mediated repression of the Pax8 expression. Thus, MYC might serve as a potential target for therapeutic intervention.
To understand the roles of thyroid hormone receptors (TRs) in adipogenesis, we adopted a loss-of-function approach. We generated 3T3-L1 cells stably expressing either TRα1 mutant (TRα1PV) or TRβ1 mutant (TRβ1PV). TRα1PV and TRβ1PV are dominant negative mutations with a frameshift in the C-terminal amino acids. In control cells, the thyroid hormone, tri-iodothyronine (T3), induced a 2·5-fold increase in adipogenesis in 3T3-L1 cells, as demonstrated by increased lipid droplets. This increase was mediated by T3-induced expression of the peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor γ (PPARγ) and CCAAT/enhancer-binding protein α (C/EBPα), which are master regulators of adipogenesis at both the mRNA and protein levels. In 3T3-L1 cells stably expressing TRα1PV (L1-α1PV cells) or TRβ1PV (L1-β1PV cells), adipogenesis was reduced 94 or 54% respectively, indicative of differential inhibitory activity of mutant TR isoforms. Concordantly, the expression of PPARγ and C/EBPα at the mRNA and protein levels was more repressed in L1-α1PV cells than in L1-β1PV cells. In addition, the expression of PPARγ downstream target genes involved in fatty acid synthesis – the lipoprotein lipase (Lpl) and aP2 involved in adipogenesis – was more inhibited by TRα1PV than by TRβ1PV. Chromatin immunoprecipitation assays showed that TRα1PV was more avidly recruited than TRβ1PV to the promoter to preferentially block the expression of the C/ebpα gene. Taken together, these data indicate that impaired adipogenesis by mutant TR is isoform dependent. The finding that induction of adipogenesis is differentially regulated by TR isoforms suggests that TR isoform-specific ligands could be designed for therapeutic intervention for lipid abnormalities.
Thyroid hormone (T3) nuclear receptors (TR) are ligand-dependent transcription factors which regulate growth, differentiation, and development. One emerging hypothesis suggests that TR mediate these diverse effects via a large network of coregulators. Recently, we found that TR-mediated transcriptional responses varied in six cell lines derived from different tissues. We therefore used human TR subtype β1 (TRβ1) as bait to search for coregulators in human colon carcinoma RKO cells with a yeast two-hybrid system. RKO cells exhibited T3-dependent and -independent transcriptional activation. One of the three positive clones was identified as Ear-2, which is a distant member of the chick ovalbumin upstream promoter-transcription factors of the orphan nuclear receptor family. The physical interaction between Ear-2 and TRβ1 was further confirmed by specific binding of Ear-2 to glutathione S-transferase–TRβ1. In addition, Ear-2 was found to associate with TRβ1 in cells. As a result of this physical interaction, binding of TRβ1 to the T3 response elements was inhibited. Using reporter systems, we found that both the basal activation and the T3-dependent activation mediated by TRβ1 were repressed by Ear-2 in CV1 cells. In RKO cells, however, the T3-independent transcriptional activity was more sensitive to the repression effect of Ear-2 than the T3-dependent transcriptional activity. The repression effect of Ear-2 was reversed by steroid hormone receptor coactivator 1. These results suggest that TR-mediated responses reflect a balance of corepressors and coactivators in cells. These findings further strengthen the hypothesis that the diverse activities of TR are achieved via a large network of coregulators that includes Ear-2.
Mutations of the thyroid hormone receptor β (TRβ) gene cause resistance to thyroid hormone (RTH). RTH is characterized by increased serum thyroid hormone associated with nonsuppressible thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) and impaired growth. It is unclear how the actions of TRβ mutants are modulated in vivo to affect the manifestation of RTH. Using a mouse model of RTH that harbors a knockin mutation of the TRβ gene (TRβPV mouse), we investigated the effect of the steroid hormone receptor coactivator 3 (SRC-3) on RTH. In TRβPV mice deficient in SRC-3, dysfunction of the pituitary-thyroid axis and hypercholesterolemia was lessened, but growth impairment of RTH was worsened. The lessened dysfunction of the pituitary-thyroid axis was attributed to a significant decrease in growth of the thyroid and pituitary. Serum insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1) was further reduced in TRβPV mice deficient in SRC-3. This effect led to reduced signaling of the IGF-1/phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (PI3K)/AKT/mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) pathway that is known to mediate cell growth and proliferation. Thus, SRC-3 modulates RTH by at least two mechanisms, one via its role as a receptor coregulator and the other via its growth regulatory role through the IGF-1/PI3K/AKT/mTOR signaling.
Thyroid hormone (TH) receptors (TRs) play central roles in metabolism and are major targets for pharmaceutical intervention. Presently, however, there is limited information about genome wide localizations of TR binding sites. Thus, complexities of TR genomic distribution and links between TRβ binding events and gene regulation are not fully appreciated. Here, we employ a BioChIP approach to capture TR genome-wide binding events in a liver cell line (HepG2). Like other NRs, TRβ appears widely distributed throughout the genome. Nevertheless, there is striking enrichment of TRβ binding sites immediately 5′ and 3′ of transcribed genes and TRβ can be detected near 50% of T3 induced genes. In contrast, no significant enrichment of TRβ is seen at negatively regulated genes or genes that respond to unliganded TRs in this system. Canonical TRE half-sites are present in more than 90% of TRβ peaks and classical TREs are also greatly enriched, but individual TRE organization appears highly variable with diverse half-site orientation and spacing. There is also significant enrichment of binding sites for TR associated transcription factors, including AP-1 and CTCF, near TR peaks. We conclude that T3-dependent gene induction commonly involves proximal TRβ binding events but that far-distant binding events are needed for T3 induction of some genes and that distinct, indirect, mechanisms are often at play in negative regulation and unliganded TR actions. Better understanding of genomic context of TR binding sites will help us determine why TR regulates genes in different ways and determine possibilities for selective modulation of TR action.
Thyroid hormone receptors (TRs) are critical in regulating gene expression in normal physiological processes. Decreased expression and/or somatic mutations of TRs have been shown to be associated several types of human cancers including liver, breast, lung, and thyroid. To understand the molecular mechanisms by which mutated TRs promote carcinogenesis, an animal model of follicular thyroid carcinoma (FTC) (ThrbPV/PV mice) was used in the present study. The ThrbPV/PV mouse harbors a knockin dominant negative PV mutation, identified in a patient with resistance to thyroid hormone. To understand whether oncogenic actions of PV involve not only the loss of normal TR functions but also gain-of-function activities, we compared the gene expression profiles of thyroid lesions in ThrbPV/PV mice and Thra1−/−Thrb−/− mice that also spontaneously develop FTC, but with less severe malignancy. Analysis of the cDNA microarray data derived from microdissected thyroid tumor cells of these two mice showed contrasting global gene expression profiles. With stringent selection using 2.5-fold change (p<0.01) in cDNA microarray analysis, 241 genes with altered gene expression were identified. Nearly half of the genes (n=103: 42.7% of total) with altered gene expression in thyroid tumor cells of ThrbPV/PV mice were associated with tumorigenesis and metastasis; some of these genes function as oncogenes in human thyroid cancers. The remaining genes were found to function in transcriptional regulation, RNA processing, cell proliferation, apoptosis, angiogenesis, and cytoskeleton modification. These results indicate that the more aggressive thyroid tumor progression in ThrbPV/PV mice was not due simply to the loss of tumor suppressor functions of TR via mutation but also, importantly, to gain-of-function in the oncogenic activities of PV to drive thyroid carcinogenesis. Thus, the present study identifies a novel mechanism by which a mutated TRβ evolves with an oncogenic advantage to promote thyroid carcinogenesis.
Mutant TR; thyroid cancer; mouse model; microarray; gene expression
Thyroid hormone receptors (TRs) are critical in regulating gene expression in normal physiological processes. Decreased expression and/or somatic mutations of TRs have been shown to be associated several types of human cancers including liver, breast, lung, and thyroid. To understand the molecular mechanisms by which mutated TRs promote carcinogenesis, an animal model of follicular thyroid carcinoma (FTC) (Thrbpv/pv mice) was used in the present study. The Thrbpv/pv mouse harbors a knockin dominant negative PV mutation, identified in a patient with resistance to thyroid hormone. To understand whether oncogenic actions of PV involve not only the loss of normal TR functions but also gain-of-function activities, we compared the gene expression profiles of thyroid lesions in Thrbpv/pv mice and Thra1-/- Thrb-/- mice that also spontaneously develop FTC, but with less severe malignancy. Analysis of the cDNA microarray data derived from microdissected thyroid tumor cells of these two mice showed contrasting global gene expression profiles. With stringent selection using 2.5-fold change (p<0.01) in cDNA microarray analysis, 241 genes with altered gene expression were identified. Nearly half of the genes (n=103: 42.7% of total) with altered gene expression in thyroid tumor cells of Thrbpv/pv mice were associated with tumorigenesis and metastasis; some of these genes function as oncogenes in human thyroid cancers. The remaining genes were found to function in transcriptional regulation, RNA processing, cell proliferation, apoptosis, angiogenesis, and cytoskeleton modification. These results indicate that the more aggressive thyroid tumor progression in Thrbpv/pv mice was not due simply to the loss of tumor suppressor functions of TR via mutation but also, importantly, to gain-of-function in the oncogenic activities of PV to drive thyroid carcinogenesis. Thus, the present study identifies a novel mechanism by which a mutated TRβ evolves with an oncogenic advantage to promote thyroid carcinogenesis.
Mutant TR; thyroid cancer; mouse model; microarray; gene expression