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1.  Activation of integrin-ERBB2 signaling in undifferentiated thyroid cancer 
Undifferentiated thyroid carcinoma is one of the most aggressive human cancers. Although genetic changes underlying this aggressive cancer remain to be elucidated, RAS mutations have been frequently identified in it. Mice harboring a mutant thyroid hormone receptor ThrbPV (ThrbPV/PV) spontaneously develop differentiated follicular thyroid carcinoma similar to human thyroid cancer. We recently demonstrated that targeting a RAS mutation (KrasG12D) to the thyroid of ThrbPV/PV mice (ThrbPV/PV KrasG12D mice) promotes initiation and progression of undifferentiated thyroid cancer. To uncover genes destined to drive the aggressive cancer phenotype, we used cDNA microarrays to compare the gene expression profiles of thyroid cells of KrasG12D mice and thyroid tumor lesions of ThrbPV/PV and ThrbPV/PV KrasG12D mice. Analyses of microarray data identified 14 upstream regulators that were significantly altered in thyroid tumors of ThrbPV/PV and ThrbPV/PV KrasG12D mice. Most of these genes with altered expression function as key regulators in growth factor-induced signaling. Further analysis identified gene expression profiles of markedly elevated integrin levels, acting as upstream activators to stimulate ERBB2-mediated downstream signaling in thyroid tumors of ThrbPV/PV KrasG12D mice. The present studies uncovered integrin-activated ERBB2 signaling as one of the mechanisms in synergy between TRβPV and KRASG12D signaling to promote aggressive tumor growth in undifferentiated thyroid cancer.
PMCID: PMC4266711  PMID: 25520867
Growth regulation; thyroid cancer; ERBB2; integrins; microarrays; gene expression
2.  Src-dependent phosphorylation at Y406 on the thyroid hormone receptor β confers the tumor suppressor activity 
Oncotarget  2014;5(20):10002-10016.
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.
PMCID: PMC4259401  PMID: 25275301
cSrc signaling; phosphorylation of thyroid hormone receptor β1; tumor suppressor; breast cancer cells; xenograft models
3.  Synergistic Signaling of KRAS and Thyroid Hormone Receptor β Mutants Promotes Undifferentiated Thyroid Cancer through MYC Up-Regulation12 
Neoplasia (New York, N.Y.)  2014;16(9):757-769.
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.
doi:10.1016/j.neo.2014.08.003
PMCID: PMC4234871  PMID: 25246276
4.  Thyroid Hormone Receptors and Cancer 
Biochimica et biophysica acta  2012;1830(7):3928-3936.
Background
Thyroid hormone receptors (TRs) are ligand-dependent transcription factors that mediate the actions of the thyroid hormone (T3) in development, growth, and differentiation. The THRA and THRB genes encode several TR isoforms that express in a tissue- and development-dependent manner. In the past decades, a significant advance has been made in the understanding of TR actions in maintaining normal cellular functions. However, the roles of TRs in human cancer are less well understood. The reduced expression of TRs because of hypermethylation, or deletion of TR genes found in human cancers suggests that TRs could function as tumor suppressors. A close association of somatic mutations of TRs with human cancers further supports the notion that the loss of normal functions of TR could lead to uncontrolled growth and loss of cell differentiation.
Scope of Review
In line with the findings from association studies in human cancers, mice deficient in total functional TRs (Thra1−/−Thrb−/− mice) or with a targeted homozygous mutation of the Thrb gene (denoted PV; ThrbPV/PV mice) spontaneous develop metastatic thyroid carcinoma. This review will examine the evidence learned from these genetically engineered mice that provided strong evidence to support the critical role of TRs in human cancer.
Major Conclusions
Loss of normal functions of TR by deletion or by mutations could contribute to cancer development, progression and metastasis.
General Significance
Novel mechanistic insights are revealed in how aberrant TR activities lead to carcinogenesis. Mouse models of thyroid cancer provide opportunities to identify molecular targets as potential treatment modalities.
doi:10.1016/j.bbagen.2012.04.002
PMCID: PMC3406244  PMID: 22507269
Thyroid hormone receptor mutant; Thyroid cancer; Phosphatidylinositol 3 kinase; Src kinase; β-catenin; Mouse models
5.  Thyroid Hormone Receptor α Mutation Causes a Severe and Thyroxine-Resistant Skeletal Dysplasia in Female Mice 
Endocrinology  2014;155(9):3699-3712.
A new genetic disorder has been identified that results from mutation of THRA, encoding thyroid hormone receptor α1 (TRα1). Affected children have a high serum T3:T4 ratio and variable degrees of intellectual deficit and constipation but exhibit a consistently severe skeletal dysplasia. In an attempt to improve developmental delay and alleviate symptoms of hypothyroidism, patients are receiving varying doses and durations of T4 treatment, but responses have been inconsistent so far. Thra1PV/+ mice express a similar potent dominant-negative mutant TRα1 to affected individuals, and thus represent an excellent disease model. We hypothesized that Thra1PV/+ mice could be used to predict the skeletal outcome of human THRA mutations and determine whether prolonged treatment with a supraphysiological dose of T4 ameliorates the skeletal abnormalities. Adult female Thra1PV/+ mice had short stature, grossly abnormal bone morphology but normal bone strength despite high bone mass. Although T4 treatment suppressed TSH secretion, it had no effect on skeletal maturation, linear growth, or bone mineralization, thus demonstrating profound tissue resistance to thyroid hormone. Despite this, prolonged T4 treatment abnormally increased bone stiffness and strength, suggesting the potential for detrimental consequences in the long term. Our studies establish that TRα1 has an essential role in the developing and adult skeleton and predict that patients with different THRA mutations will display variable responses to T4 treatment, which depend on the severity of the causative mutation.
doi:10.1210/en.2013-2156
PMCID: PMC4138578  PMID: 24914936
6.  Inhibition of estrogen-dependent tumorigenesis by the thyroid hormone receptor β in xenograft models 
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.
PMCID: PMC3696536  PMID: 23841029
Thyroid hormone receptor beta; tumor suppressor; tumorigenesis; STAT signaling; MCF-7 cells
7.  SKI-606, a Src inhibitor, reduces tumor growth, invasion, and distant metastasis in a mouse model of thyroid cancer 
Clinical Cancer Research  2012;18(5):1281-1290.
Purpose
Src is over-expressed or hyper-activated in a variety of human cancers including thyroid carcinoma. Src is a central mediator in multiple signaling pathways that are important in oncogenesis and cancer progression. In this study, we evaluated the effects of a Src inhibitor, SKI-606 (bosutinib), in a spontaneous metastatic thyroid cancer model with constitutively activated Src (ThrbPV/PVPten+/− mice).
Experimental Design
ThrbPV/PVPten+/− mice were treated with SKI-606 or vehicle controls, beginning at 6 weeks of age until the mice succumbed to thyroid cancer. We assessed the effects of SKI-606 on thyroid cancer progression and analyzed the impact of SKI-606 on aberrant Src-mediated signaling.
Results
SKI-606 effectively inhibited aberrant activation of Src and its downstream targets to markedly inhibit the growth of thyroid tumor, thereby prolonging the survival of treated mice. While Src inhibition did not induce cell apoptosis, it decreased cell proliferation by affecting the expression of key regulators of cell cycle progression. Importantly, SKI-606 dramatically prevented de-differentiation, vascular invasion, and lung metastasis of thyroid cancer cells. These responses were meditated by down-regulation of mitogen-activated protein kinase pathways and inhibition of the epithelial-mesenchymal transition.
Conclusions
Our findings suggest that Src is critical in the progression of thyroid cancer, making oral SKI-606 a promising treatment strategy for refractory thyroid cancer.
doi:10.1158/1078-0432.CCR-11-2892
PMCID: PMC3294177  PMID: 22271876
Thyroid cancer; Src; SKI-606; metastasis; epithelial-mesenchymal transition; mouse model
8.  New insights into regulation of lipid metabolism by thyroid hormone 
Purpose of review
Thyroid hormone (3,3′,5-triiodo-l-thyronine) plays an important role in thermogenesis and maintenance of lipid homeostasis. The present article reviews the evidence that 3,3′,5-triiodo-l-thyronine regulates lipid metabolism via thyroid hormone receptors, focusing particularly on in-vivo findings using genetically engineered mice.
Recent findings
That lipid metabolism is regulated via thyroid hormone receptor isoforms in a tissue-dependent manner was recently uncovered by using knockin mutant mice harboring an identical mutation in the Thra gene (Thra1PV mouse) or the Thrb gene (ThrbPV mouse). The mutation in the Thra gene dramatically decreases the mass of both white adipose tissue and liver. In contrast, the mutation in the Thrb gene markedly increases the mass of liver with an excess depot of lipids, but no significant abnormality is observed in white adipose tissue. Molecular studies show that the expression of lipogenic genes is decreased in white adipose tissue of Thra1PV mice, but not in ThrbPV mice. Markedly increased lipogenic enzyme expression, and decreased fatty acid beta-oxidation activity contribute to the adipogenic steatosis and lipid accumulation in the liver of ThrbPV mice. In contrast, reduced expression of genes critical for lipogenesis mediates decreased liver mass with lipid scarcity in Thra1PV mice.
Summary
Studies using Thra1PV and ThrbPV mice indicate that apo-thyroid hormone receptor-beta and apo-thyroid hormone receptor-alpha-1 mediate distinct deleterious effects on lipid metabolism. Thus, both thyroid hormone receptor isoforms contribute to the pathogenesis of lipid abnormalities in hypothyroidism, but in a target tissue-dependent manner. These studies suggest that thyroid hormone receptor isoform-specific ligands could be designed as therapeutic targets for lipid abnormalities.
doi:10.1097/MED.0b013e32833d6d46
PMCID: PMC3457777  PMID: 20644471
lipid metabolism; mouse models; mutations; thyroid hormone; thyroid hormone receptors
9.  Thyroid hormone receptor β suppresses SV40-mediated tumorigenesis via novel nongenomic actions 
Accumulated evidence suggests that thyroid hormone receptor β (TRβ) could function as a tumor suppressor, but the detailed mechanisms by which TRβ inhibits tumorigenesis are not fully understood. The present studies explored the mechanisms by which TRβ acted to inhibit thyroid tumor development mediated by simian virus-40 (SV40). In mouse xenograft models, SV40 large T antigen (SV40Tag)-immortalized human thyroid epithelial (HTori) cells rapidly induced tumors, but the tumor development was totally blocked by TRβ stably expressed in HTori cells. Previous studies showed that the SV40Tag oncoprotein binds to and inactivates tumor suppressors p53 and retinoblastoma protein (Rb), thereby inducing tumorigenesis. Here we showed that one of the mechanisms by which TRβ suppressed tumor development was by competing with p53 and Rb for binding to SV40Tag. The interaction of TRβ with SV40Tag led to reactivation of Rb to inhibit cell cycle progression. TRβ- SV40Tag interaction also resulted in reactivating p53 to increase the expression of Pten, thus attenuating PI3K-AKT signaling to decrease cell proliferation and to induce apoptosis. The present study uncovered a novel action of TRβ as a tumor suppressor initiated via interfering with the recruitment of Rb and p53 by SV40Tag oncoprotein through protein-protein interaction, thereby acting to block tumor development.
PMCID: PMC3433110  PMID: 22957312
Thyroid hormone receptor; tumor suppressor; tumorigenesis; thyroid hormone; xenograft models
10.  Extranuclear signaling of mutated thyroid hormone receptors in promoting metastatic spread in thyroid carcinogenesis 
Steroids  2011;76(9):885-891.
Thyroid hormone receptors (TRs) mediate the critical activities of the thyroid hormone (T3) in growth, development, and differentiation. Decreased expression and/or somatic mutations of TRs have been shown to be associated with several types of human cancers including liver, breast, lung, and thyroid. A direct demonstration that TRβ mutants could function as oncogenes is evidenced by the spontaneous development of follicular thyroid carcinoma similar to human cancer in a knockin mouse model harboring a mutated TRβ (denoted as PV; ThrbPV/PV mice). PV is a dominant negative mutation identified in a patient with resistance to thyroid hormone. Analysis of altered gene expression and molecular studies of thyroid carcinogenesis in ThrbPV/PV mice show that the oncogenic activity of PV is mediated by both nucleus-initiated transcription and extranuclear actions to alter gene expression and signaling transduction activity. This article focuses on recent findings of novel extranuclear actions of PV that affect signaling cascades and thereby the invasiveness, migration, and motility of thyroid tumor cells. These findings have led to identification of potential molecular targets for treatment of metastatic thyroid cancer.
doi:10.1016/j.steroids.2011.03.016
PMCID: PMC3129395  PMID: 21473875
thyroid hormone receptors; thyroid hormone receptor mutants; mouse model; thyroid cancer; carcinogenesis; extranuclear signaling
11.  Modeling follicular thyroid cancer for future therapies 
Therapeutic choices are limited for undifferentiated metastatic thyroid carcinomas. Although implanted subcutaneous thyroid tumors are standard preclinical models to examine the efficacy of new therapeutic agents, these xenograft models frequently fail to predict the outcomes of clinical trials in patients with metastatic thyroid carcinomas. Genetically engineered mouse models with alterations similar to human cancers in their pathological progression and in an immunocompetent environment offer unparalleled opportunities for evaluating novel potential molecular targets. We review recent advances in the modeling of follicular thyroid carcinoma with distant metastasis and in the use of these mouse models in preclinical studies, emphasizing the significance of genetically engineered mouse models in clinical applications.
PMCID: PMC3304569  PMID: 22485196
Thyroid cancer; thyroid hormone receptors; preclinical studies; mouse models; thyroid hormone receptor mutations
12.  Nongenomic Activation of Phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase Signaling by Thyroid Hormone Receptors 
Steroids  2008;74(7):628-634.
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.
doi:10.1016/j.steroids.2008.10.009
PMCID: PMC3272696  PMID: 19014961
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
13.  Genomic profiling of genes contributing to metastasis in a mouse model of thyroid follicular carcinoma 
Metastasis is the major cause of thyroid cancer-related death. However, little is known about the genes involved in the metastatic spread of thyroid carcinomas. We have created a mouse that spontaneously develops metastatic follicular thyroid carcinoma (FTC). This mouse harbors a targeted mutation (denoted TRβPV) in the thyroid hormone receptor β gene (ThrbPV/PV mice). Our recent studies show that the highly elevated level of thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) in ThrbPV/PV mice promotes proliferation of thyroid tumor cells, but requires the collaboration of the oncogenic action of TRβPV to empower the tumor cells to undergo distant metastasis. To uncover genes destined to drive the metastatic process, we used cDNA microarrays to compare the genomic expression profile of laser capture microdissected thyroid tumor lesions of ThrbPV/PV mice with that of hyperplastic thyroid cells of wild-type mice having elevated TSH induced by treatment with the anti-thyroid drug propylthiouracil (WT-PTU mice). Analyses of microarray data indicated that the expressions of 150 genes were significantly altered between ThrbPV/PV and WT-PTU mice (87 genes had higher expression and 63 genes had lower expression in ThrbPV/PV mice than in WT-PTU mice). Thirty-six percent of genes with altered expression function as key regulators in metastasis. The remaining genes were involved in various cellular processes including metabolism, intracellular trafficking, transcriptional regulation, post-transcriptional modification, and cell-cell/extracellular matrix signaling. The present studies have uncovered novel genes responsible for the metastatic spread of FTC and, furthermore, have shown that the metastatic process of thyroid cancer requires effective collaboration among genes with diverse cellular functions. Importantly, the present studies indicate that the tumor cells in the primary lesions are endowed with the genes destined to promote metastasis. Thus, our study has provided new insights into the understanding of the metastatic spread of human thyroid cancer.
PMCID: PMC3090007  PMID: 21562609
Metastasis; thyroid cancer; mouse model; microarray; gene expression
14.  Global expression profiling reveals gain-of-function oncogenic activity of a mutated thyroid hormone receptor in thyroid carcinogenesis 
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.
PMCID: PMC3086765  PMID: 21547001
Mutant TR; thyroid cancer; mouse model; microarray; gene expression
15.  Global expression profiling reveals gain-of-function onco-genic activity of a mutated thyroid hormone receptor in thyroid carcinogenesis 
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.
PMCID: PMC3086765  PMID: 21547001
Mutant TR; thyroid cancer; mouse model; microarray; gene expression
16.  Genomic profiling of genes contributing to metastasis in a mouse model of thyroid follicular carcinoma 
Metastasis is the major cause of thyroid cancer-related death. However, little is known about the genes involved in the metastatic spread of thyroid carcinomas. We have created a mouse that spontaneously develops metastatic follicular thyroid carcinoma (FTC). This mouse harbors a targeted mutation (denoted TRβPV) in the thyroid hormone receptor β gene (ThrbPV/PV mice). Our recent studies show that the highly elevated level of thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) in ThrbPV/PV mice promotes proliferation of thyroid tumor cells, but requires the collaboration of the oncogenic action of TRβPV to empower the tumor cells to undergo distant metastasis. To uncover genes destined to drive the metastatic process, we used cDNA microarrays to compare the genomic expression profile of laser capture microdissected thyroid tumor lesions of ThrbPV/PV mice with that of hyperplastic thyroid cells of wild-type mice having elevated TSH induced by treatment with the anti-thyroid drug propylthiouracil (WT-PTU mice). Analyses of microarray data indicated that the expressions of 150 genes were significantly altered between ThrbPV/PV and WT-PTU mice (87 genes had higher expression and 63 genes had lower expression in ThrbPV/PV mice than in WT-PTU mice). Thirty-six percent of genes with altered expression function as key regulators in metastasis. The remaining genes were involved in various cellular processes including metabolism, intracellular trafficking, transcriptional regulation, post-transcriptional modification, and cell-cell/extracellular matrix signaling. The present studies have uncovered novel genes responsible for the metastatic spread of FTC and, furthermore, have shown that the metastatic process of thyroid cancer requires effective collaboration among genes with diverse cellular functions. Importantly, the present studies indicate that the tumor cells in the primary lesions are endowed with the genes destined to promote metastasis. Thus, our study has provided new insights into the understanding of the metastatic spread of human thyroid cancer.
PMCID: PMC3090007  PMID: 21562609
Metastasis; thyroid cancer; mouse model; microarray; gene expression
17.  Novel functions of thyroid hormone receptor mutants: Beyond nucleus-initiated transcription 
Steroids  2006;72(2):171-179.
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.
doi:10.1016/j.steroids.2006.11.005
PMCID: PMC2794798  PMID: 17169389
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
18.  Aberrant accumulation of PTTG1 induced by a mutated thyroid hormone β receptor inhibits mitotic progression 
Journal of Clinical Investigation  2006;116(11):2972-2984.
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.
doi:10.1172/JCI28598
PMCID: PMC1592548  PMID: 17039256
19.  Complex temporal changes in TGFβ oncogenic signaling drive thyroid carcinogenesis in a mouse model 
Carcinogenesis  2013;34(10):2389-2400.
Despite recent advances, understanding of molecular genetic alterations underlying thyroid carcinogenesis remains unclear. One key question is how dynamic temporal changes in global genomic expression affect carcinogenesis as the disease progresses. To address this question, we used a mouse model that spontaneously develops follicular thyroid cancer similar to human cancer (Thrb PV/PV mice). Using complementary DNA microarrays, we compared global gene expression profiles of thyroid tumors of Thrb PV/PV mice with the age- and gender-matched thyroids of wild-type mice at 3 weeks and at 2, 4, 6 and 14 months. These time points covered the pathological progression from early hyperplasia to capsular invasion, vascular invasion and eventual metastasis. Microarray data indicated that 462 genes were upregulated (Up-cluster genes) and 110 genes were downregulated (Down-cluster genes). Three major expression patterns (trending up, cyclical and spiking up and then down) and two (trending down and cyclical) were apparent in the Up-cluster and Down-cluster genes, respectively. Functional clustering of tumor-related genes followed by Ingenuity Pathways Analysis identified the transforming growth factor β (TGF β)-mediated network as key signaling pathways. Further functional analyses showed sustained activation of TGFβ receptor–pSMAD2/3 signaling, leading to decreased expression of E-cadherin and increased expression of fibronectin, vimentin, collagens and laminins. These TGFβ-induced changes facilitated epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition, which promotes cancer invasion and migration. Thus, complex temporal changes in gene expression patterns drive thyroid cancer progression, and persistent activation of TGFβ–TGFRβII–pSMAD2/3 signaling leads to EMT, thus promoting metastasis. This study provides new understanding of progression and metastatic spread of human thyroid cancer.
doi:10.1093/carcin/bgt175
PMCID: PMC3786374  PMID: 23698635
20.  Oncogenic Actions of the Nuclear Receptor Corepressor (NCOR1) in a Mouse Model of Thyroid Cancer 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(6):e67954.
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.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0067954
PMCID: PMC3694063  PMID: 23840792
21.  Thyroid hormone receptors regulate adipogenesis and carcinogenesis via crosstalk signaling with peroxisome proliferator-activated receptors 
Peroxisome proliferator-activated receptors (PPARs) and thyroid hormone receptors (TRs) are members of the nuclear receptor superfamily. They are ligand-dependent transcription factors that interact with their cognate hormone response elements in the promoters to regulate respective target gene expression to modulate cellular functions. While the transcription activity of each is regulated by their respective ligands, recent studies indicate that via multiple mechanisms PPARs and TRs crosstalk to affect diverse biological functions. Here, we review recent advances in the understanding of the molecular mechanisms and biological impact of crosstalk between these two important nuclear receptors, focusing on their roles in adipogenesis and carcinogenesis.
doi:10.1677/JME-09-0107
PMCID: PMC3464095  PMID: 19741045
22.  Adipogenesis is differentially impaired by thyroid hormone receptor mutant isoforms 
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.
doi:10.1677/JME-09-0137
PMCID: PMC3464097  PMID: 20080985
23.  NCoR1 regulates thyroid hormone receptor isoform-dependent adipogenesis 
We previously showed that two thyroid hormone receptor (TR) isoforms – TRα1 and TRβ1 – differentially regulate thyroid hormone (triiodothyroxine, T3)-stimulated adipogenesis in vivo. This study aims to understand the role of the nuclear receptor corepressor, NCoR1, in TR isoform-dependent adipogenesis. We found that T3-stimulated adipogenesis of 3T3-L1 cells was accompanied by progressive loss of NCoR1 protein levels. In 3T3-L1 cells stably expressing a mutated TRα1, PV (L1-α1PV cells), the T3-stimulated adipogenesis was more strongly inhibited than that in 3T3-L1 cells stably expressing an identical mutation in TRβ1 (L1-β1PV cells). The stronger inhibition of adipogenesis in L1-α1PV cells was associated with a higher NCoR1 protein level. These results indicate that the degree of loss of NCoR1 correlates with the extent of adipogenesis. siRNA knockdown of NCoR1 promoted adipogenesis of control 3T3-L1 cells and reversed the inhibited adipogenesis of L1-α1PV and L1-β1PV cells, indicating that NCoR1 plays an essential role in TR isoform-dependent adipogenesis. An ubiquitin ligase, mSiah2, that targets NCoR1 for proteasome degradation was upregulated on day 1 before the onset of progressive loss of NCoR1. NCoR1 was found to associate with mSiah2 and with TR, TRα1PV, or TRβ1PV, but a stronger interaction of NCoR1 with TRα1PV than with TRβ1PV was detected. Furthermore, TRα1PV–NCoR1 complex was more avidly recruited than TRβ1PV–NCoR1 to the promoter of the C/ebpα gene, leading to more inhibition in its expression. These results indicate that differential interaction of NCoR1 with TR isoforms accounted for the TR isoform-dependent regulation of adipogenesis and that aberrant interaction of NCoR1 with TR could underlie the pathogenesis of lipid disorders in hypothyroidism.
doi:10.1530/JME-10-0163
PMCID: PMC3457783  PMID: 21389087
24.  Thyroid hormone stimulates hepatic lipid catabolism via activation of autophagy 
The Journal of Clinical Investigation  2012;122(7):2428-2438.
For more than a century, thyroid hormones (THs) have been known to exert powerful catabolic effects, leading to weight loss. Although much has been learned about the molecular mechanisms used by TH receptors (TRs) to regulate gene expression, little is known about the mechanisms by which THs increase oxidative metabolism. Here, we report that TH stimulation of fatty acid β-oxidation is coupled with induction of hepatic autophagy to deliver fatty acids to mitochondria in cell culture and in vivo. Furthermore, blockade of autophagy by autophagy-related 5 (ATG5) siRNA markedly decreased TH-mediated fatty acid β-oxidation in cell culture and in vivo. Consistent with this model, autophagy was altered in livers of mice expressing a mutant TR that causes resistance to the actions of TH as well as in mice with mutant nuclear receptor corepressor (NCoR). These results demonstrate that THs can regulate lipid homeostasis via autophagy and help to explain how THs increase oxidative metabolism.
doi:10.1172/JCI60580
PMCID: PMC3386813  PMID: 22684107
25.  Akt deficiency delays tumor progression, vascular invasion, and distant metastases in a murine model of thyroid cancer 
Oncogene  2011;30(42):4307-4315.
Akt activation is common in progressive thyroid cancer. In breast cancer, Akt1 induced primary cancer growth, but is reported to inhibit metastasis in vivo in several model systems. In contrast, clinical and in vitro studies suggest a metastasis-promoting role for Akt1 in thyroid cancer. The goal of this study was to determine the functional role of Akt1 in thyroid cancer growth and metastatic progression in vivo using thyroid hormone receptor βPV/PV knock-in (PV) mice which develop metastatic thyroid cancer. We crossed Akt1-/- and PV mice and compared tumor development, local progression, metastasis, and histology in TRβPV/PV/Akt1+/+ (PVPV-Akt1WT) and TRβPV/PV/Akt1-/- (PVPV-Akt1KO) mice. Mice were sacrificed at 3, 6, 9, 12, and 15 months; necropsy was performed and serum TSH was measured. Thyroid hyperplasia occurred in both groups beginning at three months; the thyroid size was greater in the PVPV-Akt1WT mice (p<0.001). In comparison with PVPV-Akt1WT mice, thyroid cancer development was delayed in the PVPV-Akt1KO mice (P=0.003) and the degree of tumor invasion was reduced. The PVPV-Akt1WT mice displayed pulmonary metastases at 12 and 15 months of age, by contrast PVPV-Akt1KO mice did not develop distant metastases at 15 months of age. Despite continued expression of Akt2 or Akt3, pAkt levels were decreased, and there was evidence of reduced Akt effect on p27 in the PVPV-Akt1KO thyroids. TSH levels were similarly elevated in PV mice regardless of Akt1 expression. In conclusion, thyroid cancer development and progression in TRβPV/PV mice are Akt1-dependent, consistent with a tumor progression-promoting role in this murine thyroid cancer model.
doi:10.1038/onc.2011.136
PMCID: PMC3151477  PMID: 21532616
PI3 Kinase; Thyroid Hormone Receptor Beta; Thyrotropin; p27; gelsolin

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