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1.  Expression of the p53 Target Wig-1 Is Associated with HPV Status and Patient Survival in Cervical Carcinoma 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(11):e111125.
The p53 target gene WIG-1 (ZMAT3) is located in chromosomal region 3q26, that is frequently amplified in human tumors, including cervical cancer. We have examined the status of WIG-1 and the encoded Wig-1 protein in cervical carcinoma cell lines and tumor tissue samples. Our analysis of eight cervical cancer lines (Ca Ski, ME-180, MS751, SiHa, SW756, C-4I, C-33A, and HT-3) by spectral karyotype, comparative genomic hybridization and Southern blotting revealed WIG-1 is not the primary target for chromosome 3 gains. However, WIG-1/Wig-1 were readily expressed and WIG-1 mRNA expression was higher in the two HPV-negative cervical cell lines (C33-A, HT-3) than in HPV-positive lines. We then assessed Wig-1 expression by immunohistochemistry in 38 cervical tumor samples. We found higher nuclear Wig-1 expression levels in HPV-negative compared to HPV positive cases (p = 0.002) and in adenocarcinomas as compared to squamous cell lesions (p<0.0001). Cases with moderate nuclear Wig-1 staining and positive cytoplasmic Wig-1 staining showed longer survival than patients with strong nuclear and negative cytoplasmic staining (p = 0.042). Nuclear Wig-1 expression levels were positively associated with age at diagnosis (p = 0.023) and histologic grade (p = 0.034). These results are consistent with a growth-promoting and/or anti-cell death function of nuclear Wig-1 and suggest that Wig-1 expression can serve as a prognostic marker in cervical carcinoma.
PMCID: PMC4224373  PMID: 25379706
2.  TERT promoter mutations and gene amplification: Promoting TERT expression in Merkel cell carcinoma 
Oncotarget  2014;5(20):10048-10057.
Telomerase activation through the induction of its catalytic component TERT is essential in carcinogenesis. The regulatory mechanism and clinical significance underlying cancer-specific TERT expression have been extensively investigated in various human malignancies, but little is known about these in Merkel cell carcinoma (MCC), an aggressive neuroendocrine skin tumor. Here we addressed these issues by determining TERT promoter mutations, gene amplification, mRNA expression and association with clinical variables in MCC. TERT mRNA was expressed in 6/6 MCC cell lines and 41 of 43 tumors derived from 35 MCC patients. Telomerase activity was detectable in all 6 cell lines and 11 tumors analyzed. TERT promoter mutations were identified in 1/6 cell lines and 4/35 (11.4%) MCC cases. The mutation exhibited UV signature and occurred in sun-exposed areas. Increased TERT gene copy numbers were observed in 1/6 cell lines and 11/14 (79%) tumors, and highly correlated with its mRNA expression (r = 0.7419, P = 0.0024). Shorter overall survival was significantly associated with higher TERT mRNA levels in MCC patients (P = 0.032). Collectively, TERT expression and telomerase activity is widespread in MCC, and may be attributable to TERT promoter mutations and gene amplification. Higher TERT expression predicts poor patient outcomes.
PMCID: PMC4259404  PMID: 25301727
Gene amplification; Merkel cell carcinoma; MCV; Promoter mutations; Telomerase; TERT
3.  Global and gene-specific promoter methylation analysis in primary hyperparathyroidism 
Epigenetics  2013;8(6):646-655.
Epigenetic mechanisms involved in primary hyperparathyroidism are poorly understood as studies are limited. In order to understand the role of aberrant DNA promoter methylation in the pathogenesis of parathyroid tumors, we have quantified the CpG island promoter methylation density of several candidate genes including APC (promoter 1A and 1B), ?-catenin (CTNNB1), CASR, CDC73/HRPT2, MEN1, P16 (CDKN2A), PAX1, RASSF1A, SFRP1 and VDR in 72 parathyroid tumors and 3 normal parathyroid references using bisulfite pyrosequencing. Global methylation levels were assessed for LINE-1. We also compared methylation levels with gene expression levels measured by qRT-PCR for genes showing frequent hypermethylation. The adenomas displayed frequent hypermethylation of APC 1A (37/66; 56%), RASSF1A (34/66; 52%) and ?-catenin (19/66; 29%). One of the three atypical adenomas was hypermethylated for APC 1A. The three carcinomas were hypermethylated for RASSF1A and SFRP1, and the latter was only observed in this subtype. The global methylation density was similar in tumors (mean 70%) and parathyroid reference samples (mean 70%). In general, hypermethylated genes had reduced expression in the parathyroid adenomas using qRT-PCR. Among the adenomas, methylation of APC 1A correlated with adenoma weight (r = 0.306, p < 0.05). Furthermore, the methylation status of RASSF1A correlated with each of APC 1A (r = 0.289, p < 0.05) and ?-catenin (r = 0.315, p < 0.01). Our findings suggest a role for aberrant DNA promoter methylation of APC 1A, ?-catenin and RASSF1A in a subset of parathyroid tumors.
PMCID: PMC3857344  PMID: 23764768
APC; CpG islands; DNA promoter methylation; RASSF1A; SFRP1; Wnt signaling; parathyroid tumors; pyrosequencin; ?-catenin
4.  The activating TERT promoter mutation C228T is recurrent in subsets of adrenal tumors 
Endocrine-Related Cancer  2014;21(3):427-434.
The telomerase reverse transcriptase gene (TERT) encodes the reverse transcriptase component of the telomerase complex, which is essential for telomere stabilization and cell immortalization. Recent studies have demonstrated a transcriptional activation role for the TERT promoter mutations C228T and C250T in many human cancers, as well as a role in aggressive disease with potential clinical applications. Although telomerase activation is known in adrenal tumors, the underlying mechanisms are not established. We assessed C228T and C250T TERT mutations by direct Sanger sequencing in tumors of the adrenal gland, and further evaluated potential associations with clinical parameters and telomerase activation. A total of 199 tumors were evaluated, including 34 adrenocortical carcinomas (ACC), 47 adrenocortical adenomas (ACA), 105 pheochromocytomas (PCC; ten malignant and 95 benign), and 13 abdominal paragangliomas (PGL; nine malignant and four benign). TERT expression levels were determined by quantitative RT-PCR. The C228T mutation was detected in 4/34 ACCs (12%), but not in any ACA (P=0.028). C228T was also observed in one benign PCC and in one metastatic PGL. The C250T mutation was not observed in any case. In the ACC and PGL groups, TERT mutation-positive cases exhibited TERT expression, indicating telomerase activation; however, since expression was also revealed in TERT WT cases, this could denote additional mechanisms of TERT activation. To conclude, the TERT promoter mutation C228T is a recurrent event associated with TERT expression in ACCs, but rarely occurs in PGL and PCC. The involvement of the TERT gene in ACC represents a novel mutated gene in this entity.
PMCID: PMC4045219  PMID: 24803525
TERT; telomerase; mutation; endocrine; pheochromocytoma; adrenocortical tumor
5.  Evidence for Ca2+-Regulated ATP Release in Gastrointestinal Stromal Tumors 
Experimental cell research  2013;319(8):1229-1238.
Gastrointestinal stromal tumors (GISTs) are thought to originate from the electrically active pacemaker cells of the gastrointestinal tract. Despite the presence of synaptic-like vesicles and proteins involved in cell secretion it remains unclear whether GIST cells possess regulated release mechanisms. The GIST tumor cell line GIST882 was used as a model cell system, and stimulus-release coupling was investigated by confocal microscopy of cytoplasmic free Ca2+ concentration ([Ca2+]i), flow cytometry, and luminometric measurements of extracellular ATP. We demonstrate that GIST cells have an intact intracellular Ca2+-signaling pathway that regulates ATP release. Cell viability and cell membrane integrity was preserved, excluding ATP leakage due to cell death and suggesting active ATP release. The stimulus-secretion signal transduction is at least partly dependent on Ca2+ influx since exclusion of extracellular Ca2+ diminishes the ATP release. We conclude that measurements of ATP release in GISTs may be a useful tool for dissecting the signal transduction pathway, mapping exocytotic components, and possibly for the development and evaluation of drugs. Additionally, release of ATP from GISTs may have importance for tumor tissue homeostasis and immune surveillance escape.
PMCID: PMC3628080  PMID: 23499741
Gastrointestinal stromal tumor; GIST; ATP release; Ca2+; flow cytometry; confocal microscopy
6.  Telomerase-Dependent and Independent Telomere Maintenance and its Clinical Implications in Medullary Thyroid Carcinoma 
Telomere maintenance via telomerase activation and the alternative lengthening of telomeres (ALT) mechanism was assessed in medullary thyroid carcinoma.
Setting and Design:
In total, 42 medullary thyroid carcinomas (MTC) were studied including 24 rearranged during transfection (RET)- mutated cases. Relative telomerase reverse transcriptase (TERT) expression, splice forms, and telomere length were determined by PCR-based methods, and telomerase activity by ELISA. The ALT mechanism was detected by Southern blot analysis and immunofluorescence.
TERT expression and telomerase activity were detected in 21/42 tumors (50%), and was independent of the common somatic M918T RET mutation. Mean telomere length was shorter in MTCs compared with thyroids. Telomerase activation was associated with large tumor size (P = .027), advanced clinical stage (P = .0001), and short survival (P = .0001). Full-length TERT and the α− and β−-deletion forms were revealed, and the full-length form was associated with short survival (P = .04). A subset of cases without telomerase activation showed involvement of the ALT mechanism, which was associated with a low MIB-1 proliferation index (P = .024).
Stabilization of telomeres by telomerase activation occurs in half of the MTCs and by the ALT mechanism in a subset of cases. Telomerase activation may be used as an additional prognostic marker in medullary thyroid carcinoma.
PMCID: PMC4207931  PMID: 24758186
7.  Copy number alterations in small intestinal neuroendocrine tumors determined by array comparative genomic hybridization 
BMC Cancer  2013;13:505.
Small intestinal neuroendocrine tumors (SI-NETs) are typically slow-growing tumors that have metastasized already at the time of diagnosis. The purpose of the present study was to further refine and define regions of recurrent copy number (CN) alterations (CNA) in SI-NETs.
Genome-wide CNAs was determined by applying array CGH (a-CGH) on SI-NETs including 18 primary tumors and 12 metastases. Quantitative PCR analysis (qPCR) was used to confirm CNAs detected by a-CGH as well as to detect CNAs in an extended panel of SI-NETs. Unsupervised hierarchical clustering was used to detect tumor groups with similar patterns of chromosomal alterations based on recurrent regions of CN loss or gain. The log rank test was used to calculate overall survival. Mann–Whitney U test or Fisher’s exact test were used to evaluate associations between tumor groups and recurrent CNAs or clinical parameters.
The most frequent abnormality was loss of chromosome 18 observed in 70% of the cases. CN losses were also frequently found of chromosomes 11 (23%), 16 (20%), and 9 (20%), with regions of recurrent CN loss identified in 11q23.1-qter, 16q12.2-qter, 9pter-p13.2 and 9p13.1-11.2. Gains were most frequently detected in chromosomes 14 (43%), 20 (37%), 4 (27%), and 5 (23%) with recurrent regions of CN gain located to 14q11.2, 14q32.2-32.31, 20pter-p11.21, 20q11.1-11.21, 20q12-qter, 4 and 5. qPCR analysis confirmed most CNAs detected by a-CGH as well as revealed CNAs in an extended panel of SI-NETs. Unsupervised hierarchical clustering of recurrent regions of CNAs revealed two separate tumor groups and 5 chromosomal clusters. Loss of chromosomes 18, 16 and 11 and again of chromosome 20 were found in both tumor groups. Tumor group II was enriched for alterations in chromosome cluster-d, including gain of chromosomes 4, 5, 7, 14 and gain of 20 in chromosome cluster-b. Gain in 20pter-p11.21 was associated with short survival. Statistically significant differences were observed between primary tumors and metastases for loss of 16q and gain of 7.
Our results revealed recurrent CNAs in several candidate regions with a potential role in SI-NET development. Distinct genetic alterations and pathways are involved in tumorigenesis of SI-NETs.
PMCID: PMC3819709  PMID: 24165089
Small intestine; Neuroendocrine tumor; Carcinoid; Array CGH; Chromosome 18
8.  The VHL gene is epigenetically inactivated in pheochromocytomas and abdominal paragangliomas 
Epigenetics  2013;8(12):1347-1354.
Pheochromocytoma (PCC) and abdominal paraganglioma (PGL) are neuroendocrine tumors that present with clinical symptoms related to increased catecholamine levels. About a third of the cases are associated with constitutional mutations in pre-disposing genes, of which some may also be somatically mutated in sporadic cases. However, little is known about inactivating epigenetic events through promoter methylation in these very genes. Using bisulphite pyrosequencing we assessed the methylation density of 11 PCC/PGL disease genes in 96 tumors (83 PCCs and 13 PGLs) and 34 normal adrenal references. Gene expression levels were determined by quantitative RT-PCR. Both tumors and normal adrenal samples exhibited low methylation index (MetI) in the EGLN1 (PDH2), MAX, MEN1, NF1, SDHB, SDHC, SDHD, SDHAF2 (SDH5), and TMEM127 promoters, not exceeding 10% in any of the samples investigated. Aberrant RET promoter methylation was observed in two cases only. For the VHL gene we found increased MetI in tumors as compared with normal adrenals (57% vs. 27%; P < 0.001), in malignant vs. benign tumors (63% vs. 55%; P < 0.05), and in PGL vs. PCC (66% vs. 55%; P < 0.0005). Decreased expression of the VHL gene was observed in all tumors compared with normal adrenals (P < 0.001). VHL MetI and gene expressions were inversely correlated (R = −0.359, P < 0.0001). Our results show that the VHL gene promoter has increased methylation compared with normal adrenals (MetI > 50%) in approximately 75% of PCCs and PGLs investigated, highlighting the role of VHL in the development of these tumors.
PMCID: PMC3933494  PMID: 24149047
Pheochromocytoma; paraganglioma; VHL; DNA promoter methylation; gene expression; pyrosequencing; qRT-PCR
9.  Clinical and functional impact of TARBP2 over-expression in adrenocortical carcinoma 
Endocrine-Related Cancer  2013;20(4):551-564.
Deregulation of microRNA (miRNA) expression in adrenocortical carcinomas (ACCs) has been documented to have diagnostic, prognostic, as well as functional implications. Here, we evaluated the mRNA expression of DROSHA, DGCR8, DICER (DICER1), TARBP2, and PRKRA, the core components in the miRNA biogenesis pathway, in a cohort of 73 adrenocortical tumors (including 43 adenomas and 30 carcinomas) and nine normal adrenal cortices using a RT-qPCR approach. Our results show a significant over-expression of TARBP2, DICER, and DROSHA in the carcinomas compared with adenomas or adrenal cortices (P<0.001 for all comparisons). Using western blot and immunohistochemistry analyses, we confirmed the higher expression of TARBP2, DICER, and DROSHA at the protein level in carcinoma cases. Furthermore, we demonstrate that mRNA expression of TARBP2, but not DICER or DROSHA, is a strong molecular predictor to discriminate between adenomas and carcinomas. Functionally, we showed that inhibition of TARBP2 expression in human NCI-H295R ACC cells resulted in a decreased cell proliferation and induction of apoptosis. TARBP2 over-expression was not related to gene mutations; however, copy number gain of the TARBP2 gene was observed in 57% of the carcinomas analyzed. In addition, we identified that miR-195 and miR-497 could directly regulate TARBP2 and DICER expression in ACC cells. This is the first study to demonstrate the deregulation of miRNA-processing factors in adrenocortical tumors and to show the clinical and biological impact of TARBP2 over-expression in this tumor type.
PMCID: PMC3709642  PMID: 23671264
TARBP2; over-expression; adrenocortical cancer; diagnostic; function
10.  Inhibition of Parathyroid Hormone Secretion by Caffeine in Human Parathyroid Cells 
Context and Objective:
Caffeine is a highly consumed psychoactive substance present in our daily drinks. Independent studies have reported associations between caffeine consumption, low bone mineral density, and urinary calcium loss, as well as impaired bone development in vitro and in vivo. Calcium (Ca2+), vitamin D, and PTH are critical regulators of bone remodeling. A possible association between caffeine and parathyroid gland function has been suggested in the literature.
Design, Setting, and Patients:
Effects of caffeine on PTH secretion and Ca2+ levels were determined by batch incubation and Fura-2, respectively, in pathological parathyroid cells. Protein expressions were studied by Western blot and immunohistochemistry in normal and parathyroid adenoma tissues. Alterations in gene expressions of adenosine receptor A1 (ADORA1) and A2 (ADORA2A) and PTH were quantified by PCR; intracellular cAMP levels and protein kinase A activity were analyzed by an antibody-based assay.
We studied physiological concentrations of caffeine ranging from 1 to 50 μm and found that 50 μm caffeine caused a significant decrease of PTH secretion and PTH gene expression. This decrease occurred in parallel with a decrease of the intracellular cAMP level, protein kinase A activity, and ADORA1 gene expression, indicating a possible causal relationship. The intracellular level of Ca2+ was unaffected even by high concentrations of caffeine. Protein expressions demonstrated two main targets for caffeine—ADORA1 and ADORA2A.
A physiological high dose of caffeine inhibits PTH secretion in human parathyroid cells, possibly due to a decrease of the intracellular level of cAMP. The observation demonstrates a functional link between caffeine and parathyroid cell function.
PMCID: PMC4207951  PMID: 23788688
11.  Acquired hypermethylation of the P16INK4A promoter in abdominal paraganglioma: relation to adverse tumor phenotype and predisposing mutation 
Endocrine-Related Cancer  2013;20(1):65-78.
Recurrent alterations in promoter methylation of tumor suppressor genes (TSGs) and LINE1 (L1RE1) repeat elements were previously reported in pheochromocytoma and abdominal paraganglioma. This study was undertaken to explore CpG methylation abnormalities in an extended tumor panel and assess possible relationships between metastatic disease and mutation status. CpG methylation was quantified by bisulfite pyrosequencing for selected TSG promoters and LINE1 repeats. Methylation indices above normal reference were observed for DCR2 (TNFRSF10D), CDH1, P16 (CDKN2A), RARB, and RASSF1A. Z-scores for overall TSG, and individual TSG methylation levels, but not LINE1, were significantly correlated with metastatic disease, paraganglioma, disease predisposition, or outcome. Most strikingly, P16 hypermethylation was strongly associated with SDHB mutation as opposed to RET/MEN2, VHL/VHL, or NF1-related disease. Parallel analyses of constitutional, tumor, and metastasis DNA implicate an order of events where constitutional SDHB mutations are followed by TSG hypermethylation and 1p loss in primary tumors, later transferred to metastatic tissue. In the combined material, P16 hypermethylation was prevalent in SDHB-mutated samples and was associated with short disease-related survival. The findings verify the previously reported importance of P16 and other TSG hypermethylation in an independent tumor series. Furthermore, a constitutional SDHB mutation is proposed to predispose for an epigenetic tumor phenotype occurring before the emanation of clinically recognized malignancy.
PMCID: PMC3573842  PMID: 23154831
Molecular genetics; Gene regulation; Metastasis; Adrenal medulla; Endocrine therapy
12.  miR-205 Expression Promotes Cell Proliferation and Migration of Human Cervical Cancer Cells 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(10):e46990.
MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are short non-coding RNA regulators that control gene expression mainly through post-transcriptional silencing. We previously identified miR-205 in a signature for human cervical cancer using a deep sequencing approach. In this study, we confirmed that miR-205 expression was frequently higher in human cervical cancer than their matched normal tissue samples. Functionally, we demonstrate that miR-205 promotes cell proliferation and migration in human cervical cancer cells. To further understand the biological roles of miR-205, we performed in vivo crosslinking and Argonaute 2 immunoprecipitation of miRNA ribonucleoprotein complexes followed by microarray analysis (CLIP-Chip) to identify its potential mRNA targets. Applying CLIP-Chip on gain- and loss-of-function experiments, we identified a set of transcripts as potential targets of miR-205. Several targets are functionally involved in cellular proliferation and migration. Two of them, CYR61 and CTGF, were further validated by Western blot analysis and quantification of mRNA enrichment in the Ago2 immunoprecipitates using qRT-PCR. Furthermore, both CYR61 and CTGF were downregulated in cervical cancer tissues. In summary, our findings reveal novel functional roles and targets of miR-205 in human cervical cancer, which may provide new insights about its role in cervical carcinogenesis and its potential value for clinical diagnosis.
PMCID: PMC3463520  PMID: 23056551
13.  Genome-Wide and Locus Specific Alterations in CDC73/HRPT2-Mutated Parathyroid Tumors 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(9):e46325.
Mutations in the hyperparathyroidism type 2 (HRPT2/CDC73) gene and alterations in the parafibromin protein have been established in the majority of parathyroid carcinomas and in subsets of parathyroid adenomas. While it is known that CDC73-mutated parathyroid tumors display specific gene expression changes compared to CDC73 wild-type cases, the molecular cytogenetic profile in CDC73-mutated cases compared to unselected adenomas (with an expected very low frequency of CDC73 mutations) remains unknown. For this purpose, nine parathyroid tumors with established CDC73 gene inactivating mutations (three carcinomas, one atypical adenoma and five adenomas) were analyzed for copy number alterations and loss of heterozygosity using array-comparative genomic hybridization (a-CGH) and single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) microarrays, respectively. Furthermore, CDC73 gene promoter methylation levels were assessed using bisulfite Pyrosequencing. The panel included seven tumors with single mutation and three with double mutations of the CDC73 gene. The carcinomas displayed copy number alterations in agreement with previous studies, whereas the CDC73-mutated adenomas did not display the same pattern of alterations at loci frequently deleted in unselected parathyroid tumors. Furthermore, gross losses of chromosomal material at 1p and 13 were significantly (p = 0.012) associated with parathyroid carcinomas as opposed to adenomas. Quantitative PCR-based copy number loss regarding CDC73 was observed in three adenomas, while all the carcinomas were diploid or showed copy number gain for CDC73 gene. Hypermethylation of the CDC73 gene promoter was not observed. Our data could suggest that CDC73-mutated parathyroid adenomas exhibit a partly unique cytogenetic profile in addition to that of carcinomas and unselected adenomas. Furthermore, CDC73-mutated carcinomas displayed losses at 1p and 13 which are not seen in CDC73-mutated adenomas, making these regions of interest for further studies regarding malignant properties in tumors from CDC73-mutated cases. However, due to the small sample size, validation of the results in a larger cohort is warranted.
PMCID: PMC3460869  PMID: 23029479
14.  Cell type and context-specific function of PLAG1 for IGF2 P3 promoter activity 
International Journal of Oncology  2012;41(6):1959-1966.
The fetal transcription factor PLAG1 is found to be overexpressed in cancers, and has been suggested to bind the insulin like growth factor 2 (IGF2) P3 promoter, and to activate the IGF2 gene. The expression of IGF2 has partly been linked to loss of CTCF-dependent chromatin insulator function at the H19 imprinting control region (ICR). We investigated the role of PLAG1 for IGF2 regulation in Hep3B and JEG-3 cell lines. Chromatin immunoprecipitation revealed cell type-specific binding of PLAG1 to the IGF2 P3 promoter, which was substantially insensitive to recombinant PLAG1 overexpression in the endogenous context. We hypothesized that the H19 chromatin insulator may be involved in the cell type-specific PLAG1 response. By using a GFP reporter gene/insulator assay plasmid construct with and without the H19 ICR and/or an SV40 enhancer, we confirm that the effect of the insulator is specifically associated with the activity of the IGF2 P3 promoter in the GFP reporter system, and furthermore, that the reporter insulator is functional in JEG-3 but not in Hep3B cells. FACS analysis was used to assess the function of PLAG1 in low endogenously expressing, but Zn-inducible stable PLAG1 expressing JEG-3 cell clones. Considerable increase in IGF2 expression upon PLAG1 induction with a partial insulator overriding activity was found using the reporter constructs. This is in contrast to the effect of the endogenous IGF2 gene which was insensitive to PLAG1 expression in JEG-3, while modestly induced the already highly expressed IGF2 gene in Hep3B cells. We suggest that the PLAG1 binding to the IGF2 P3 promoter and IGF2 expression is cell type-specific, and that the PLAG1 transcription factor acts as a transcriptional facilitator that partially overrides the insulation by the H19 ICR.
PMCID: PMC3583874  PMID: 23023303
H19 insulator; PLAG1; IGF2; P3 promoter; chromatin immunoprecipitation; Hep3B; JEG-3
15.  Quantitative global and gene-specific promoter methylation in relation to biological properties of neuroblastomas 
BMC Medical Genetics  2012;13:83.
In this study we aimed to quantify tumor suppressor gene (TSG) promoter methylation densities levels in primary neuroblastoma tumors and cell lines. A subset of these TSGs is associated with a CpG island methylator phenotype (CIMP) in other tumor types.
The study panel consisted of 38 primary tumors, 7 established cell lines and 4 healthy references. Promoter methylation was determined by bisulphate Pyrosequencing for 14 TSGs; and LINE-1 repeat element methylation was used as an indicator of global methylation levels.
Overall mean TSG Z-scores were significantly increased in cases with adverse outcome, but were unrelated to global LINE-1 methylation. CIMP with hypermethylation of three or more gene promoters was observed in 6/38 tumors and 7/7 cell lines. Hypermethylation of one or more TSG (comprising TSGs BLU, CASP8, DCR2, CDH1, RASSF1A and RASSF2) was evident in 30/38 tumors. By contrast only very low levels of promoter methylation were recorded for APC, DAPK1, NORE1A, P14, P16, TP73, PTEN and RARB. Similar involvements of methylation instability were revealed between cell line models and neuroblastoma tumors. Separate analysis of two proposed CASP8 regulatory regions revealed frequent and significant involvement of CpG sites between exon 4 and 5, but modest involvement of the exon 1 region.
The results highlight the involvement of TSG methylation instability in neuroblastoma tumors and cell lines using quantitative methods, support the use of DNA methylation analyses as a prognostic tool for this tumor type, and underscore the relevance of developing demethylating therapies for its treatment.
PMCID: PMC3495052  PMID: 22984959
Neuroblastoma; Pyrosequencing; CIMP; BLU; CASP8; DCR2; CDH1; RASSF1A; RASSF2
16.  Genetic characterization of large parathyroid adenomas 
Endocrine-Related Cancer  2012;19(3):389-407.
In this study, we genetically characterized parathyroid adenomas with large glandular weights, for which independent observations suggest pronounced clinical manifestations. Large parathyroid adenomas (LPTAs) were defined as the 5% largest sporadic parathyroid adenomas identified among the 590 cases operated in our institution during 2005–2009. The LPTA group showed a higher relative number of male cases and significantly higher levels of total plasma and ionized serum calcium (P<0.001). Further analysis of 21 LPTAs revealed low MIB1 proliferation index (0.1–1.5%), MEN1 mutations in five cases, and one HRPT2 (CDC73) mutation. Total or partial loss of parafibromin expression was observed in ten tumors, two of which also showed loss of APC expression. Using array CGH, we demonstrated recurrent copy number alterations most frequently involving loss in 1p (29%), gain in 5 (38%), and loss in 11q (33%). Totally, 21 minimal overlapping regions were defined for losses in 1p, 7q, 9p, 11, and 15q and gains in 3q, 5, 7p, 8p, 16q, 17p, and 19q. In addition, 12 tumors showed gross alterations of entire or almost entire chromosomes most frequently gain of 5 and loss of chromosome 11. While gain of 5 was the most frequent alteration observed in LPTAs, it was only detected in a small proportion (4/58 cases, 7%) of parathyroid adenomas. A significant positive correlation was observed between parathyroid hormone level and total copy number gain (r=0.48, P=0.031). These results support that LPTAs represent a group of patients with pronounced parathyroid hyperfunction and associated with specific genomic features.
PMCID: PMC3359501  PMID: 22454399
17.  Clinical, genetic, and immunohistochemical characterization of 70 Ukrainian adult cases with post-Chornobyl papillary thyroid carcinoma 
European Journal of Endocrinology  2012;166(6):1049-1060.
Increased incidence of papillary thyroid carcinoma (PTC) is observed as a consequence of radiation exposure in connection to the Chornobyl nuclear plant accident in 1986. In this study, we report a cohort of adult Ukrainian patients diagnosed with PTC from 2004 to 2008 following exposure at the age of 18 years or younger.
In total, 70 patients were identified and clinically characterized. The common BRAF 1799T>A mutation was assessed by pyrosequencing, the RET/PTC1 and RET/PTC3 (NCOA4) rearrangements by RT-PCR, and the expression of Ki-67 (MIB-1 index), BCL2, cyclin A, and cyclin D1 by immunohistochemistry.
In total, 46/70 (66%) cases carried a BRAF mutation and/or a RET/PTC rearrangement. A BRAF mutation was detected in 26 tumors, RET/PTC1 in 20 cases, and RET/PTC3 in four cases. In four of these cases, BRAF mutation and RET/PTC rearrangement were coexisting. The BRAF mutation was underrepresented among PTCs with accompanying chronic lymphocytic thyroiditis (CLT) compared with PTCs without this feature (12 vs 44%). MIB-1 proliferation index determined by double staining with leukocyte common antigen was low (mean 0.8%; range 0.05–4.5%). Moreover, increased expression of cyclin A was observed in PTCs with a tumor size >2 cm compared with PTCs ≤2 cm (1.2 vs 0.6%). BCL2 and cyclin D1 showed frequent expression but without associations to clinical characteristics or amplification of the CCND1 locus.
Our results suggest that this cohort has frequent BRAF mutation, RET/PTC1 rearrangement, and low proliferation index. Furthermore, BRAF 1799T>A was underrepresented in PTCs with CLT, and cyclin A expression was associated with increased PTC tumor size.
PMCID: PMC3361791  PMID: 22457234
18.  Prolactin Receptor in Primary Hyperparathyroidism – Expression, Functionality and Clinical Correlations 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(5):e36448.
Primary hyperparathyroidism (PHPT) is an endocrine disorder most commonly affecting women, suggesting a role for female hormones and/or their receptors in parathyroid adenomas. We here investigated the prolactin receptor (PRLr) which is associated with tumours of the breast and other organs.
Methodology/Principal Findings
PRLr expression was investigated in a panel of 37 patients with sporadic parathyroid tumours and its functionality in cultured parathyroid tumour cells. In comparison with other tissues and breast cancer cells, high levels of prolactin receptor gene (PRLR) transcripts were demonstrated in parathyroid tissues. PRLr products of 60/70 kDa were highly expressed in all parathyroid tumours. In addition varying levels of the 80 kDa PRLr isoform, with known proliferative activity, were demonstrated. In parathyroid tumours, PRLr immunoreactivity was observed in the cytoplasm (in all cases, n = 36), cytoplasmic granulae (n = 16), the plasma membrane (n = 12) or enlarged lysosomes (n = 4). In normal parathyroid rim (n = 28), PRLr was uniformly expressed in the cytoplasm and granulae. In in vitro studies of short-term cultured human parathyroid tumour cells, prolactin stimulation was associated with significant transcriptional changes in JAK/STAT, RIG-I like receptor and type II interferon signalling pathways as documented by gene expression profiling. Moreover, PRLR gene expression in parathyroid tumours was inversely correlated with the patients’ plasma calcium levels.
We demonstrate that the prolactin receptor is highly abundant in human parathyroid tissues and that PRLr isoforms expression and PRLr subcellular localisation are altered in parathyroid tumours. Responsiveness of PRLr to physiological levels of prolactin was observed in the form of increased PTH secretion and altered gene transcription with significant increase of RIG-I like receptor, JAK-STAT and Type II interferon signalling pathways. These data suggest a role of the prolactin receptor in parathyroid adenomas.
PMCID: PMC3350524  PMID: 22606260
19.  Proteomic profiling of follicular and papillary thyroid tumors 
European Journal of Endocrinology  2012;166(4):657-667.
Thyroid proteomics is a new direction in thyroid cancer research aiming at etiological understanding and biomarker identification for improved diagnosis.
Two-dimensional electrophoresis was applied to cytosolic protein extracts from frozen thyroid samples (ten follicular adenomas, nine follicular carcinomas, ten papillary carcinomas, and ten reference thyroids). Spots with differential expression were revealed by image and multivariate statistical analyses, and identified by mass spectrometry.
A set of 25 protein spots significant for discriminating between the sample groups was identified. Proteins identified for nine of these spots were studied further including 14-3-3 protein beta/alpha, epsilon, and zeta/delta, peroxiredoxin 6, selenium-binding protein 1, protein disulfide-isomerase precursor, annexin A5 (ANXA5), tubulin alpha-1B chain, and α1-antitrypsin precursor. This subset of protein spots carried the same predictive power in differentiating between follicular carcinoma and adenoma or between follicular and papillary carcinoma, as compared with the larger set of 25 spots. Protein expression in the sample groups was demonstrated by western blot analyses. For ANXA5 and the 14-3-3 proteins, expression in tumor cell cytoplasm was demonstrated by immunohistochemistry both in the sample groups and an independent series of papillary thyroid carcinomas.
The proteins identified confirm previous findings in thyroid proteomics, and suggest additional proteins as dysregulated in thyroid tumors.
PMCID: PMC3315832  PMID: 22275472
20.  The role of microRNA deregulation in the pathogenesis of adrenocortical carcinoma 
Endocrine-Related Cancer  2011;18(6):643-655.
Adrenocortical carcinoma (ACC) is an aggressive tumor showing frequent metastatic spread and poor survival. Although recent genome-wide studies of ACC have contributed to our understanding of the disease, major challenges remain for both diagnostic and prognostic assessments. The aim of this study was to identify specific microRNAs (miRNAs) associated with malignancy and survival of ACC patients. miRNA expression profiles were determined in a series of ACC, adenoma, and normal cortices using microarray. A subset of miRNAs showed distinct expression patterns in the ACC compared with adrenal cortices and adenomas. Among others, miR-483-3p, miR-483-5p, miR-210, and miR-21 were found overexpressed, while miR-195, miR-497, and miR-1974 were underexpressed in ACC. Inhibition of miR-483-3p or miR-483-5p and overexpression of miR-195 or miR-497 reduced cell proliferation in human NCI-H295R ACC cells. In addition, downregulation of miR-483-3p, but not miR-483-5p, and increased expression of miR-195 or miR-497 led to significant induction of cell death. Protein expression of p53 upregulated modulator of apoptosis (PUMA), a potential target of miR-483-3p, was significantly decreased in ACC, and inversely correlated with miR-483-3p expression. In addition, high expression of miR-503, miR-1202, and miR-1275 were found significantly associated with shorter overall survival among patients with ACC (P values: 0.006, 0.005, and 0.042 respectively). In summary, we identified additional miRNAs associated with ACC, elucidated the functional role of four miRNAs in the pathogenesis of ACC cells, demonstrated the potential involvement of the pro-apoptotic factor PUMA (a miR-483-3p target) in adrenocortical tumors, and found novel miRNAs associated with survival in ACC.
PMCID: PMC3201061  PMID: 21859927
21.  Molecular Characterization of Acquired Tolerance of Tumor Cells to Picropodophyllin (PPP) 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(3):e14757.
Picropodophyllin (PPP) is a promising novel anti-neoplastic agent that efficiently kills tumor cells in vitro and causes tumor regression and increased survival in vivo. We have previously reported that PPP treatment induced moderate tolerance in two out of 10 cell lines only, and here report the acquired genomic and expression alterations associated with PPP selection over 1.5 years of treatment.
Methodology/Principal Findings
Copy number alterations monitored using metaphase and array-based comparative genomic hybridization analyses revealed largely overlapping alterations in parental and maximally tolerant cells. Gain/ amplification of the MYC and PVT1 loci in 8q24.21 were verified on the chromosome level. Abnormalities observed in connection to PPP treatment included regular gains and losses, as well as homozygous losses in 10q24.1-q24.2 and 12p12.3-p13.2 in one of the lines and amplification at 5q11.2 in the other. Abnormalities observed in both tolerant derivatives include amplification/gain of 5q11.2, gain of 11q12.1-q14.3 and gain of 13q33.3-qter. Using Nexus software analysis we combined the array-CGH data with data from gene expression profilings and identified genes that were altered in both inputs. A subset of genes identified as downregulated (ALDH1A3, ANXA1, TLR4 and RAB5A) or upregulated (COX6A1, NFIX, ME1, MAPK and TAP2) were validated by siRNA in the tolerant or parental cells to alter sensitivity to PPP and confirmed to alter sensitivity to PPP in further cell lines.
Long-term PPP selection lead to altered gene expression in PPP tolerant cells with increase as well as decrease of genes involved in cell death such as PTEN and BCL2. In addition, acquired genomic copy number alterations were observed that were often reflected by altered mRNA expression levels for genes in the same regions.
PMCID: PMC3056661  PMID: 21423728
22.  Frequent Promoter Hypermethylation of the APC and RASSF1A Tumour Suppressors in Parathyroid Tumours 
PLoS ONE  2010;5(3):e9472.
Parathyroid adenomas constitute the most common entity in primary hyperparathyroidism, and although recent advances have been made regarding the underlying genetic cause of these lesions, very little data on epigenetic alterations in this tumour type exists. In this study, we have determined the levels of promoter methylation regarding the four tumour suppressor genes APC, RASSF1A, p16INK4A and RAR-β in parathyroid adenomas. In addition, the levels of global methylation were assessed by analyzing LINE-1 repeats.
Methodology/Principal Findings
The sample collection consisted of 55 parathyroid tumours with known HRPT2 and/or MEN1 genotypes. Using Pyrosequencing analysis, we demonstrate APC promoter 1A and RASSF1A promoter hypermethylation in the majority of parathyroid tumours (71% and 98%, respectively). Using TaqMan qRT-PCR, all tumours analyzed displayed lower RASSF1A mRNA expression and higher levels of total APC mRNA than normal parathyroid, the latter of which was largely conferred by augmented APC 1B transcription levels. Hypermethylation of p16INK4A was demonstrated in a single adenoma, whereas RAR-β hypermethylation was not observed in any sample. Moreover, based on LINE-1 analyses, parathyroid tumours exhibited global methylation levels within the range of non-neoplastic parathyroid tissues.
The results demonstrate that APC and RASSF1A promoter hypermethylation are common events in parathyroid tumours. While RASSF1A mRNA levels were found downregulated in all tumours investigated, APC gene expression was retained through APC 1B mRNA levels. These findings suggest the involvement of the Ras signaling pathway in parathyroid tumorigenesis. Additionally, in contrast to most other human cancers, parathyroid tumours were not characterized by global hypomethylation, as parathyroid tumours exhibited LINE-1 methylation levels similar to that of normal parathyroid tissues.
PMCID: PMC2830427  PMID: 20208994
23.  Chromosomal aberrations in benign and malignant Bilharzia-associated bladder lesions analyzed by comparative genomic hybridization 
BMC Cancer  2002;2:5.
Bilharzia-associated bladder cancer (BAC) is a major health problem in countries where urinary schistosomiasis is endemic. Characterization of the genetic alterations in this cancer might enhance our understanding of the pathogenic mechanisms of the disease but, in contrast to nonbilharzia bladder cancer, BAC has rarely been the object of such scrutiny. In the present study, we aimed to characterize chromosomal imbalances in benign and malignant post-bilharzial lesions, and to determine whether their unique etiology yields a distinct cytogenetic profile as compared to chemically induced bladder tumors.
DNAs from 20 archival paraffin-embedded post-bilharzial bladder lesions (6 benign and 14 malignant) obtained from Sudanese patients (12 males and 8 females) with a history of urinary bilharziasis were investigated for chromosomal imbalances using comparative genomic hybridization (CGH). Subsequent FISH analysis with pericentromeric probes was performed on paraffin sections of the same cases to confirm the CGH results.
Seven of the 20 lesions (6 carcinomas and one granuloma) showed chromosomal imbalances varying from 1 to 6 changes. The most common chromosomal imbalances detected were losses of 1p21-31, 8p21-pter, and 9p and gain of 19p material, seen in three cases each, including the benign lesion.
Most of the detected imbalances have been repeatedly reported in non-bilharzial bladder carcinomas, suggesting that the cytogenetic profiles of chemical- and bilharzia-induced carcinomas are largely similar. However, loss of 9p seems to be more ubiquitous in BAC than in bladder cancer in industrialized countries.
PMCID: PMC101388  PMID: 11914143
24.  Malignant Fibrous Histiocytoma, Aggressive Fibromatosis and Benign Fibrous Tumors Express mRNA for the Metalloproteinase Inducer EMMPRIN and the Metalloproteinases MMP-2 and MT1-MMP 
Sarcoma  2001;5(3):143-149.
Purpose: Extracellular matrix metalloproteinase inducer (EMMPRIN) has been shown to stimulate fibroblasts to production of matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs). MMPs comprise a family of proteolytic enzymes implicated in the degradation of extracellular matrix which has been proposed to be one of the essential steps in tumor invasion and metastases. In the present study we investigated the expression and location of mRNAs for EMMPRIN, matrix metalloproteinase-2 (MMP-2), and membrane-type 1 matrix metalloproteinase (MT1-MMP) in mesenchymal tumors with different tendencies to recur or metastasize.
Subjects: Eight malignant fibrous histiocytomas (MFH), seven aggressive fibromatosis (AF), and six benign fibrous tumors (BF).
Method: The mRNA-expression of EMMPRIN, MMP-2 and MT1-MMP were studied using mRNA in situ hybridization technique.
Results: The mRNA-expression of EMMPRIN, MMP-2 and MT1-MMP respectively were found at varying frequency and level in all tumor types. The mRNAs corresponding to EMMPRIN and MMP-2 were seen in neoplastic cells as well as in endothelial cells both inside and outside the tumor pseudo-capsule, whereas MT1-MMP was seen only within the tumors. The estimated mRNA levels of EMMPRIN and MMP-2 covariated significantly. Overall, the highest expression was found in the MFH tumors and the lowest levels in the BF tumors.
Discussion: These findings suggest that the MMP-inducer EMMPRIN and the extracellular matrix degrading system involving the metalloproteinases MMP-2 and MT1-MMP is frequently activated in mesenchymal tumors. The covariation between EMMPRIN and MMP-2 support previous findings that EMMPRIN may be an inducer of MMP-2. The high levels of MMP-2 mRNA in MFH indicate a relationship between the proteolytic activity of MMP-2 and the tumor aggressiveness.
PMCID: PMC2408369  PMID: 18521441
25.  MicroRNA Expression Patterns Related to Merkel Cell Polyomavirus Infection in Human Merkel Cell Carcinoma 
Merkel cell carcinoma (MCC) is an aggressive and lethal type of neuroendocrine skin cancer. Mutated Merkel cell polyomavirus (MCV) is commonly found in MCC, and leads to upregulation of the survivin oncogene. However, ∼20% of MCC tumors do not have detectable MCV, suggesting alternative etiologies for this tumor type. In this study, our aim was to evaluate microRNA (miRNA) expression profiles and their associations with MCV status and clinical outcomes in MCC. We showed that miRNA expression profiles were distinct between MCV-positive (MCV+) and MCV-negative (MCV−) MCCs and further validated that miR-203, miR-30a-3p, miR-769-5p, miR-34a, miR-30a-5p, and miR-375 were significantly different. We also identified a subset of miRNAs associated with tumor metastasis and MCC-specific survival. Functionally, overexpression of miR-203 was found to inhibit cell growth, induce cell cycle arrest, and regulate survivin expression in MCV− MCC cells, but not in MCV+ MCC cells. Our findings reveal a mechanism of survivin expression regulation in MCC cells, and provide insights into the role of miRNAs in MCC tumorigenesis.
PMCID: PMC3898110  PMID: 23962809

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