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In JoVE (1)
Other Publications (25)
- Laboratory Investigation; a Journal of Technical Methods and Pathology
- Cancer Research
- Cancer Treatment and Research
- Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences
- Cancer Research
- Endocrine Pathology
- Cancer Research
- Genes, Chromosomes & Cancer
- Cancer Research
- Journal of Fluorescence
- The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism
- Cell Cycle (Georgetown, Tex.)
- The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism
- Journal of Molecular Medicine (Berlin, Germany)
- Clinics (Sao Paulo, Brazil)
- Molecular Biology of the Cell
- Human Mutation
- Nature Reviews. Cancer
- Methods in Molecular Biology (Clifton, N.J.)
- Traffic (Copenhagen, Denmark)
- Expert Review of Proteomics
- Endocrine-related Cancer
Articles by Lois M. Mulligan in JoVE
An Efficient and Flexible Cell Aggregation Method for 3D Spheroid Production
Sarah M. Maritan*1,2, Eric Y. Lian*1,2, Lois M. Mulligan1,2
1Division of Cancer Biology and Genetics, Queen's University Cancer Research Institute, 2Department of Pathology and Molecular Medicine, Queen's University
Other articles by Lois M. Mulligan on PubMed
Glial Cell Line-derived Neurotrophic Factor Family Receptors Are Abnormally Expressed in Aganglionic Bowel of a Subpopulation of Patients with Hirschsprung's Disease
Laboratory Investigation; a Journal of Technical Methods and Pathology. Jun, 2002 | Pubmed ID: 12065680
Hirschsprung's disease (HSCR), a congenital disease, is characterized by the absence of ganglion cells in the ganglion plexuses of the caudal most gut. In the aganglionic colon, the plexus remnants are replaced by aggregates of glial cells and hypertrophied nerve fibers. Signaling of glial cell line-derived neurotrophic factor (GDNF)-GFRAs-receptor tyrosine kinase (RET) is crucial for the development and maintenance of ganglion cells. Mutations of genes such as GDNF and RET lead to the perturbation of this signaling pathway, which causes HSCR. To understand the role of GFRAs in ganglion cells and the pathogenesis of HSCR, we intended to determine the specific cell lineages in the enteric nervous system that normally express GFRAs but are affected in HSCR. We studied colon biopsy specimens from 13 patients with HSCR (aged 1 day to 38 months) and 6 age-matched patients without HSCR as normal controls. RT-PCR, in situ hybridization, and immunohistochemistry were performed to examine the expression and cellular distributions of GFRAs in resected bowel segments of normal infants and those with HSCR. In normal infants and normoganglionic colon of patients with HSCR, the expression of GFRA1 was restricted to the glial cells and neurones of the ganglion plexuses. GFRAs expression was found to be markedly reduced in the aganglionic colons of 3 infants with HSCR but was unaffected in the aganglionic colons of 10 other infants with HSCR. Residual GFRA expression was restricted to enteric glial cells in the plexus remnants of the aganglionic colons. Hypertrophied nerve fibers were not found to express GFRA1. We provide the first evidence that abnormal expression of GFRAs in the enteric nervous system may be involved in the pathogenesis of HSCR in a subpopulation of patients.
Transcriptional Repression of the RET Proto-oncogene by a Mitogen Activated Protein Kinase-dependent Signalling Pathway
Gene. Sep, 2002 | Pubmed ID: 12406571
Transcription factors play important roles in regulating cell growth and differentiation. In this study, treatment of the MTC cell line, TT, with phorbol 12-myristate 13-acetate (PMA) was shown to reduce neurite outgrowth which may be associated with de-differentiation and loss of the transformed phenotype. Northern blotting revealed that PMA transiently induced early growth response gene 1 (Egr-1) expression and decreased RET expression. Transient transfection analyses using 5'-deletion constructs of the basal RET promoter, demonstrated the requirement of a region between -70 and -33 bp for PMA-inducible expression. Gel shift and supershift studies demonstrated that PMA induced Egr-1 formed part of a complex capable of binding to the RET minimal promoter. Overexpression of Egr-1 displaced both sephacryl and phosphocellulose protein 1 (Sp1) and Sp3 from a GC-box element previously found to be important for RET basal expression. Furthermore, use of a raf-1 inducible TT cell line, that has been previously shown to downregulate RET expression, revealed that this downregulation may be linked to the induction of Egr-1. Our data suggest that regulation of RET expression during development and in medullary thyroid carcinoma may be determined, at least in part, by this complex of Sp and Egr-1 proteins.
Cancer Research. Jul, 2004 | Pubmed ID: 15231654
RET is a transmembrane receptor required for the development of neuroendocrine and urogenital cell types. Activation of RET has roles in cell growth, migration, or differentiation, yet little is known about the gene expression patterns through which these processes are mediated. We have generated cell lines stably expressing either the RET9 or RET51 protein isoforms and have used these to investigate RET-mediated gene expression patterns by cDNA microarray analyses. As seen for many oncogenes, we identified altered expression of genes associated generally with cell-cell or cell-substrate interactions and up-regulation of tumor-specific transcripts. We also saw increased expression of transcripts normally associated with neural crest or other RET-expressing cell types, suggesting these genes may lie downstream of RET activation in development. The most striking pattern of expression was up-regulation of stress response genes. We showed that RET expression significantly up-regulated the genes for heat shock protein (HSP) 70 family members, HSPA1A, HSPA1B, and HSPA1L. Other members of several HSP families and HSP70-interacting molecules that were associated with stress response protein complexes involved in protein maturation were also specifically up-regulated by RET, whereas those associated with the roles of HSP70 in protein degradation were down-regulated or unaffected. The major mechanism of stress response induction is activation of the heat shock transcription factor HSF1. We showed that RET expression leads to increased HSF1 activation, which correlates with increased expression of stress response genes. Together, our data suggest that RET may be directly responsible for expression of stress response proteins and the initiation of stress response.
Cancer Treatment and Research. 2004 | Pubmed ID: 16209059
Diagnosis and management of MEN 2 has evolved considerably since the identification of the underlying disease mutations in the RETproto-oncogene. Presymptomatic detection and prophylactic surgical intervention are now the accepted standard of care. The strong correlation of disease phenotype and mutation genotype has already also allowed us to develop mutation-guided management strategies to optimize time ot intervention and schedule follow-up and management. As our understanding of the depth of these correlations increases we look forward to better refining our management regimes to fit both the best care requirements and the quality of life needs of the MEN 2 patient.
Oncogene. Feb, 2005 | Pubmed ID: 15592530
Mutations of the RET proto-oncogene are found in the majority of patients with the inherited cancer syndrome multiple endocrine neoplasia type 2 (MEN 2). A minority of cases, however, have no detectable RET mutation and there is considerable phenotypic variation within and among MEN 2 families with the same RET mutation, suggesting a role for other loci in this disease. A candidate for such a gene is glial cell line-derived neurotrophic factor receptor alpha 4 (GFRA4), which encodes a cell surface-bound co-receptor (GFR alpha 4) required for interaction of RET with its ligand persephin. The GFRA4 gene has multiple alternative splices leading to three distinct protein isoforms that are prominently expressed in thyroid. We postulated that mutations of GFRA4 contribute to MEN 2 in the absence of RET mutations or modify the RET mutation phenotype. We screened patients with MEN 2 or MEN 2-like phenotypes, with and without RET mutations, for variants of GFRA4. We identified 10 variants, one of which was over represented in, and two of which were found exclusively in, our patient populations. One of these was a single-base substitution upstream of the GFR alpha 4 coding region, where it may alter gene expression. The second was a 7 bp insertion, which results in a change in reading frame for all three GFR alpha 4 isoforms. This would cause a relative shift in membrane bound and soluble forms of GFR alpha 4, which would significantly alter the formation of RET signalling complexes. Our data suggest a model of wild-type GFR alpha 4 isoform expression that includes both activating and inhibiting co-receptors for RET.
Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences. Aug, 2006 | Pubmed ID: 17102091
Multiple endocrine neoplasia Type 2 (MEN 2) is an inherited cancer syndrome characterized by medullary thyroid carcinoma (MTC). The disease has three subtypes, which are distinguished by the presence of additional phenotypes. In particular, pheochromocytoma occurs in approximately 50% of patients with the MEN 2A or MEN 2B subtypes, but is not found in patients with the milder disease subtype, familial MTC (FMTC). All subtypes of MEN 2 are caused by activating mutations of the RET (REarranged in Transfection) proto-oncogene. RET encodes a transmembrane receptor tyrosine kinase, required for development of neuroendocrine cell types and the kidneys. All MEN 2 subtypes are associated with single amino acid substitution mutations that are found in either the extracellular domain or in the kinase domain of RET. There are strong genotype-phenotype correlations in MEN 2 between patient phenotype and the specific residue that is mutated. MEN 2A is primarily associated with substitutions at five extracellular cysteine residues, while 95% of MEN 2B is associated with a single methionine to threonine mutation in the kinase domain (M918T). In FMTC, RET mutations are more broadly distributed, with both extracellular cysteines and intracellular sites implicated. In all cases, MEN 2-RET mutations result in constitutive activation of the receptor, although the mechanism and relative functional effects of the mutations vary. Recent advances in functional characterization and development of molecular models of RET and of various MEN 2-RET mutants are helping us understand tissue-specific differences in oncogenic potential conferred by the different RET mutations. Here, we discuss and compare several well-characterized mutations of the extracellular and kinase domains, which have quite varied functional implications.
Cancer Research. Nov, 2006 | Pubmed ID: 17108110
Multiple endocrine neoplasia 2B (MEN 2B) is an inherited syndrome of early onset endocrine tumors and developmental anomalies. The disease is caused primarily by a methionine to threonine substitution of residue 918 in the kinase domain of the RET receptor (2B-RET); however, the molecular mechanisms that lead to the disease phenotype are unclear. In this study, we show that the M918T mutation causes a 10-fold increase in ATP binding affinity and leads to a more stable receptor-ATP complex, relative to the wild-type receptor. Further, the M918T mutation alters local protein conformation, correlating with a partial loss of RET kinase autoinhibition. Finally, we show that 2B-RET can dimerize and become autophosphorylated in the absence of ligand stimulation. Our data suggest that multiple distinct but complementary molecular mechanisms underlie the MEN 2B phenotype and provide potential targets for effective therapeutics for this disease.
Endocrine Pathology. 2007 | Pubmed ID: 17916994
The rearranged during transfection (RET) proto-oncogene encodes a receptor tyrosine kinase that is implicated in the development of endocrine tumors of the thyroid and adrenal glands. In humans, activating RET mutations are found in the inherited cancer syndrome multiple endocrine neoplasia 2 and in sporadic medullary and papillary thyroid carcinomas. The specific type and location of RET mutations are strongly correlated with the disease phenotype and have both diagnostic and prognostic value. Recent advances in the molecular characterization of the RET receptor and its mutants have begun to define the mechanisms underlying the transforming ability of the different RET mutant forms. This information has revealed key functional features of these mutant proteins that distinguish the different clinically recognized mutations and provide clues as to the functional origins of the phenotypes associated with specific RET mutations. The elucidation of molecular mechanisms involved in RET-mediated transformation is a key step in the development of much needed therapeutics that target RET's oncogenic properties. Recent advances have begun to provide a deeper understanding of the receptor's function, and dysfunction, in human tumors that may guide this process.
Cancer Research. Mar, 2008 | Pubmed ID: 18316596
The RET receptor tyrosine kinase has essential roles in cell survival, differentiation, and proliferation. Oncogenic activation of RET causes the cancer syndrome multiple endocrine neoplasia type 2 (MEN 2) and is a frequent event in sporadic thyroid carcinomas. However, the molecular mechanisms underlying RET's potent transforming and mitogenic signals are still not clear. Here, we show that nuclear localization of beta-catenin is frequent in both thyroid tumors and their metastases from MEN 2 patients, suggesting a novel mechanism of RET-mediated function through the beta-catenin signaling pathway. We show that RET binds to, and tyrosine phosphorylates, beta-catenin and show that the interaction between RET and beta-catenin can be direct and independent of cytoplasmic kinases, such as SRC. As a result of RET-mediated tyrosine phosphorylation, beta-catenin escapes cytosolic down-regulation by the adenomatous polyposis coli/Axin/glycogen synthase kinase-3 complex and accumulates in the nucleus, where it can stimulate beta-catenin-specific transcriptional programs in a RET-dependent fashion. We show that down-regulation of beta-catenin activity decreases RET-mediated cell proliferation, colony formation, and tumor growth in nude mice. Together, our data show that a beta-catenin-RET kinase pathway is a critical contributor to the development and metastasis of human thyroid carcinoma.
Genes, Chromosomes & Cancer. May, 2009 | Pubmed ID: 19226610
The inherited cancer syndrome multiple endocrine neoplasia type 2 (MEN 2) is caused by mutations of the RET receptor tyrosine kinase and is characterized by medullary thyroid carcinoma. MEN 2 subtypes have distinct mutational spectrums and vary in severity. The most severe disease subtype, MEN 2B, is associated with a specific RET mutation (M918T) that has been predicted to alter downstream signaling and target gene expression patterns. We used gene expression microarray analysis to identify target genes modulated by RET. We compared two oncogenic RET mutants, associated with MEN 2A (2ARET) or MEN 2B (2BRET) disease subtypes, that are predicted to have distinct downstream target genes. We showed that overall, 2ARET and 2BRET modulated genes with similar functional ontologies. Further, when we validated our microarray data by quantitative real time PCR, we did not detect major differences in gene expression associated with these mutants when differences in receptor activity levels were considered. We did, however, detect differences in gene expression induced by two RET COOH-terminal isoforms, RET9 and RET51, irrespective of the RET form present (wildtype, 2ARET, or 2BRET). Our data suggest that similar transcriptional programs contribute to all forms of MEN 2 but that differences in target gene expression may contribute to developmental pattern differences observed between RET isoforms.
Cancer Research. Jun, 2009 | Pubmed ID: 19487296
Mutations to the RET proto-oncogene occur in as many as one in three cases of thyroid cancer and have been detected in both the medullary (MTC) and the papillary (PTC) forms of the disease. Of the nearly 400 chromosomal rearrangements resulting in oncogenic fusion proteins that have been identified to date, the rearrangements that give rise to RET fusion oncogenes in PTC remain the paradigm for chimeric oncoprotein involvement in solid tumors. RET-associated PTC tumors are phenotypically indolent and relatively less aggressive than RET-related MTCs. The mechanism(s) contributing to the differences in oncogenicity of RET-related MTC and PTC remains unexplained. Here, through cellular and molecular characterization of the two most common RET/PTC rearrangements (PTC1 and PTC3), we show that RET/PTC oncoproteins are highly oncogenic when overexpressed, with the ability to increase cell proliferation and transformation. Further, RET/PTCs activate similar downstream signaling cascades to wild-type RET, although at different levels, and are relatively more stable as they avoid lysosomal degradation. Absolute quantitation of transcript levels of RET, CCDC6, and NCOA4 (the 5' fusion genes involved in PTC1 and PTC3, respectively) suggest that these rearrangements result in lower RET expression in PTCs relative to MTCs. Together, our findings suggest PTC1 and PTC3 are highly oncogenic proteins when overexpressed, but result in indolent disease compared with RET-related MTCs due to their relatively low expression from the NCOA4 and CCDC6 promoters in vivo.
Journal of Fluorescence. Jan, 2010 | Pubmed ID: 19823924
Internalization and intracellular trafficking of membrane proteins are now recognized as essential mechanisms that contribute to a number of cellular processes. Current methods lack the ability to specifically label the plasma membrane of a live cell, follow internalization of labeled membrane molecules, and conclusively differentiate newly formed membrane-derived vesicles from pre-existing endocytic or secretory structures in the cytoplasm. Here, we detail a visualization method for surface biotinylation of plasma membrane-derived vesicles that allows us to follow their progress from membrane to cytosol at specific time points. Using the transmembrane receptor RET as a model, we demonstrate how this method can be applied to identify plasma membrane-derived vesicle maturation, determine RET's presence within these structures, and monitor RET's recycling to the cell surface. This method improves on static and less discriminatory methods, providing a tool for analysis of real-time vesicle trafficking that is applicable to many systems.
High Penetrance of Pheochromocytoma Associated with the Novel C634Y/Y791F Double Germline Mutation in the RET Protooncogene
The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism. Mar, 2010 | Pubmed ID: 20080836
Previous studies have shown that double RET mutations may be associated with unusual multiple endocrine neoplasia type 2 (MEN 2) phenotypes.
Cell Cycle (Georgetown, Tex.). May, 2010 | Pubmed ID: 20505325
The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism. Nov, 2010 | Pubmed ID: 20702524
The RET receptor tyrosine kinase is an important mediator of several human diseases, most notably of neuroendocrine cancers. These diseases are characterized by aberrant cell migration, a process tightly regulated by integrins.
Novel Mutations at RET Ligand Genes Preventing Receptor Activation Are Associated to Hirschsprung's Disease
Journal of Molecular Medicine (Berlin, Germany). May, 2011 | Pubmed ID: 21206993
Hirschsprung disease (HSCR) is a developmental disorder characterized by the absence of ganglion cells along variable lengths of the distal gastrointestinal tract. The major susceptibility gene for the disease is the RET proto-oncogene, which encodes a receptor tyrosine kinase activated by the glial cell-derived neurotrophic factor (GDNF) family ligands. We analyzed the coding sequence of GDNF, NTRN, and, for the first time, ARTN and PSPN in HSCR patients and detected several novel variants potentially involved in the pathogenesis of HSCR. In vitro functional analysis revealed that the variant R91C in PSPN would avoid the correct expression and secretion of the mature protein. Moreover, this study also highlighted the role of both this variant and F127L in NRTN in altering RET activation by a significant reduction in phosphorylation. To support the role of PSPN R91C in HSCR phenotype, enteric nervous system (ENS) progenitors were isolated from human postnatal gut tissues and expression of GFRÎ±4, the main co-receptor for PSPN, was demonstrated. This suggests that not only GDNF and NRTN but also PSPN might promote survival of precursor cells during ENS development. In summary, we report for the first time the association of PSPN gene with HSCR and confirm the involvement of NRTN in the disease, with the identification of novel variants in those genes. Our results suggest that the biological consequence of the mutations NTRN F127L and PSPN R91C would be a reduction in the activation of RET-dependent signaling pathways, leading to a defect in the proliferation, migration, and/or differentiation process of neural crest cells within the developing gut and thus to the typical aganglionosis of the HSCR phenotype.
Clinics (Sao Paulo, Brazil). 2012 | Pubmed ID: 22584710
Multiple endocrine neoplasia type 2 is an inherited cancer syndrome characterized by tumors of thyroid and adrenal tissues. Germline mutations of the REarranged during Transfection (RET) proto-oncogene, leading to its unregulated activation, are the underlying cause of this disease. Multiple endocrine neoplasia type 2 has been a model in clinical cancer genetics, demonstrating how knowledge of the genetic basis can shape the diagnosis and treatment of the disease. Here, we discuss the nature and effects of the most common recurrent mutations of RET found in multiple endocrine neoplasia type 2. Current understanding of the molecular mechanisms of RET mutations and how they alter the structure and function of the RET protein leading to its aberrant activation, and the effects on RET localization and signaling are described.
Molecular Biology of the Cell. Oct, 2012 | Pubmed ID: 22875993
RET encodes a receptor tyrosine kinase that is essential for spermatogenesis, development of the sensory, sympathetic, parasympathetic, and enteric nervous systems and the kidneys, as well as for maintenance of adult midbrain dopaminergic neurons. RET is alternatively spliced to encode multiple isoforms that differ in their C-terminal amino acids. The RET9 and RET51 isoforms display unique levels of autophosphorylation and have differential interactions with adaptor proteins. They induce distinct gene expression patterns, promote different levels of cell differentiation and transformation, and play unique roles in development. Here we present a comprehensive study of the subcellular localization and trafficking of RET isoforms. We show that immature RET9 accumulates intracellularly in the Golgi, whereas RET51 is efficiently matured and present in relatively higher amounts on the plasma membrane. RET51 is internalized faster after ligand binding and undergoes recycling back to the plasma membrane. This differential trafficking of RET isoforms produces a more rapid and longer duration of signaling through the extracellular-signal regulated kinase/mitogen-activated protein kinase pathway downstream of RET51 relative to RET9. Together these differences in trafficking properties contribute to some of the functional differences previously observed between RET9 and RET51 and establish the important role of intracellular trafficking in modulating and maintaining RET signaling.
Human Mutation. Jan, 2013 | Pubmed ID: 22837065
The REarranged during Transfection (RET) gene encodes a receptor tyrosine kinase required for maturation of the enteric nervous system. RET sequence variants occur in the congenital abnormality Hirschsprung disease (HSCR), characterized by absence of ganglia in the intestinal tract. Although HSCR-RET variants are predicted to inactivate RET, the molecular mechanisms of these events are not well characterized. Using structure-based models of RET, we predicted the molecular consequences of 23 HSCR-associated missense variants and how they lead to receptor dysfunction. We validated our predictions in biochemical and cell-based assays to explore mutational effects on RET protein functions. We found a minority of HSCR-RET variants abrogated RET kinase function, while the remaining mutants were phosphorylated and transduced intracellular signals. HSCR-RET sequence variants also impacted on maturation, stability, and degradation of RET proteins. We showed that each variant conferred a unique combination of effects that together impaired RET protein activity. However, all tested variants impaired RET-mediated cellular functions, including cell transformation and migration. Our data indicate that the molecular mechanisms of impaired RET function in HSCR are highly variable. Although a subset of variants cause loss of RET kinase activity and downstream signaling, enzymatic inactivation is not the sole mechanism at play in HSCR.
Nature Reviews. Cancer. Mar, 2014 | Pubmed ID: 24561444
The RET receptor tyrosine kinase is crucial for normal development but also contributes to pathologies that reflect both the loss and the gain of RET function. Activation of RET occurs via oncogenic mutations in familial and sporadic cancers - most notably, those of the thyroid and the lung. RET has also recently been implicated in the progression of breast and pancreatic tumours, among others, which makes it an attractive target for small-molecule kinase inhibitors as therapeutics. However, the complex roles of RET in homeostasis and survival of neural lineages and in tumour-associated inflammation might also suggest potential long-term pitfalls of broadly targeting RET.
Methods in Molecular Biology (Clifton, N.J.). 2015 | Pubmed ID: 25319892
Cell surface biotinylation is a biochemical approach to covalently bind membrane-impermeable biotin to the extracellular domain of membrane proteins, such as receptor tyrosine kinases (RTKs). Subsequent to ligand incubation periods, activated biotinylated receptors may internalize from the cell surface into early endosomes and then travel through intracellular compartments to either recycle back to the membrane or degrade in lysosomes. The biotin-labeled proteins may be detected through affinity purification with streptavidin agarose resins. This chapter describes methods for cell surface biotinylation to assess RTK trafficking steps.
SpringerPlus. 2015 | Pubmed ID: 25625042
The Ataxia-telangiectasia mutated (ATM) gene encodes a multifunctional kinase, which is linked to important cellular functions. Women heterozygous for ATM mutations have an estimated relative risk of developing breast cancer of 3.8. However, the pattern of ATM mutations and their role in breast cancer etiology has been controversial and remains unclear. In the present study, we investigated the frequency and spectrum of ATM mutations in a series of sporadic breast cancers and controls from the Brazilian population.
Traffic (Copenhagen, Denmark). Nov, 2015 | Pubmed ID: 26304132
The RET receptor tyrosine kinase (RTK) contributes to kidney and nervous system development, and is implicated in a number of human cancers. RET is expressed as two protein isoforms, RET9 and RET51, with distinct interactions and signaling properties that contribute to these processes. RET isoforms are internalized from the cell surface into endosomal compartments in response to glial cell line-derived neurotropic factor (GDNF) ligand stimulation but the specific mechanisms of RET trafficking remain to be elucidated. Here, we used total internal reflection fluorescence (TIRF) microscopy to demonstrate that RET internalization occurs primarily through clathrin coated pits (CCPs). Activated RET receptors colocalize with clathrin, but not caveolin. The RET51 isoform is rapidly and robustly recruited to CCPs upon GDNF stimulation, while RET9 recruitment occurs more slowly and is less pronounced. We showed that the clathrin-associated adaptor protein complex 2 (AP2) interacts directly with each RET isoform through its AP2 μ subunit, and is important for RET internalization. Our data establish that interactions with the AP2 complex promote RET receptor internalization via clathrin-mediated endocytosis but that RET9 and RET51 have distinct internalization kinetics that may contribute to differences in their biological functions.
Expert Review of Proteomics. Jul, 2016 | Pubmed ID: 27337654
Endocrine-related Cancer. Jan, 2017 | Pubmed ID: 27872141
The RET receptor tyrosine kinase mediates cell proliferation, survival and migration in embryogenesis and is implicated in the transformation and tumour progression in multiple cancers. RET is frequently mutated and constitutively activated in familial and sporadic thyroid carcinomas. As a result of alternative splicing, RET is expressed as two protein isoforms, RET9 and RET51, which differ in their unique C-terminal amino acids. These isoforms have distinct intracellular trafficking and associated signalling complexes, but functional differences are not well defined. We used shRNA-mediated knockdown (KD) of individual RET isoforms or of total RET to evaluate their functional contributions in thyroid carcinoma cells. We showed that RET is required for cell survival in medullary (MTC) but not papillary thyroid carcinoma (PTC) cells. In PTC cells, RET depletion reduced cell migration and induced a flattened epithelial-like morphology. RET KD decreased the expression of mesenchymal markers and matrix metalloproteinases and reduced anoikis resistance and invasive potential. Further, we showed that RET51 depletion had significantly greater effects on each of these processes than RET9 depletion in both MTC and PTC cells. Finally, we showed that expression of RET, particularly RET51, was correlated with malignancy in a panel of human thyroid tumour tissues. Together, our data show that RET expression promotes a more mesenchymal phenotype with reduced cell-cell adhesion and increased invasiveness in PTC cell models, but is more important for tumour cell survival, proliferation and anoikis resistance in MTC models. Our data suggest that the RET51 isoform plays a more prominent role in mediating these processes compared to RET9.