Gene Summary

Gene:TFPI; tissue factor pathway inhibitor (lipoprotein-associated coagulation inhibitor)
Aliases: EPI, TFI, LACI, TFPI1
Summary:This gene encodes a protease inhibitor that regulates the tissue factor (TF)-dependent pathway of blood coagulation. The coagulation process initiates with the formation of a factor VIIa-TF complex, which proteolytically activates additional proteases (factors IX and X) and ultimately leads to the formation of a fibrin clot. The product of this gene inhibits the activated factor X and VIIa-TF proteases in an autoregulatory loop. The encoded protein is glycosylated and predominantly found in the vascular endothelium and plasma in both free forms and complexed with plasma lipoproteins. Several alternatively spliced transcript variants of this gene have been described, but the full-length nature of some of these variants has not been confirmed. [provided by RefSeq, Jul 2008]
Databases:OMIM, VEGA, HGNC, Ensembl, GeneCard, Gene
Protein:tissue factor pathway inhibitor
Source:NCBIAccessed: 25 June, 2015


What does this gene/protein do?
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Pathways:What pathways are this gene/protein implicaed in?
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Cancer Overview

Research Indicators

Publications Per Year (1990-2015)
Graph generated 25 June 2015 using data from PubMed using criteria.

Literature Analysis

Mouse over the terms for more detail; many indicate links which you can click for dedicated pages about the topic.

Tag cloud generated 25 June, 2015 using data from PubMed, MeSH and CancerIndex

Specific Cancers (6)

Data table showing topics related to specific cancers and associated disorders. Scope includes mutations and abnormal protein expression.

Note: list is not exhaustive. Number of papers are based on searches of PubMed (click on topic title for arbitrary criteria used).

Latest Publications: TFPI (cancer-related)

Linnekamp JF, Wang X, Medema JP, Vermeulen L
Colorectal cancer heterogeneity and targeted therapy: a case for molecular disease subtypes.
Cancer Res. 2015; 75(2):245-9 [PubMed] Related Publications
Personalized cancer medicine is becoming increasingly important in colorectal cancer treatment. Especially for targeted therapies, large variations between individual treatment responses exist. Predicting therapy response is of utmost significance, as it prevents overtreatment and adverse effects in patients. For EGFR-targeted therapy, many mechanisms of resistance have been uncovered, for example, mutations in KRAS and BRAF, and upregulation of alternative receptors. Currently, routine testing for all known modifiers of response is unpractical, and as a result, decision-making for anti-EGFR therapy is still largely based on assessing the mutation status of an individual gene (KRAS). Recently, comprehensive classifications of colorectal cancer have been presented that integrate many of the (epi-)genetic and microenvironmental factors that contribute to colorectal cancer heterogeneity. These classification systems are not only of prognostic value but also predict therapy efficacy, including the response to anti-EGFR agents. Therefore, molecular subtype-based stratification to guide therapeutic decisions is a promising new strategy that might overcome the shortcomings of single gene testing in colorectal cancer as well as in other malignancies. Furthermore, the development of new agents in a disease subtype-specific fashion has the potential to transform drug-discovery studies and generate novel, more effective therapies.

Listing H, Mardin WA, Wohlfromm S, et al.
MiR-23a/-24-induced gene silencing results in mesothelial cell integration of pancreatic cancer.
Br J Cancer. 2015; 112(1):131-9 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 06/01/2016 Related Publications
BACKGROUND: Invasion of the surrounding tissue is part of the metastatic cascade. Here, we examined the invasion of pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) cells into the mesothelial barrier and identified the related microRNA (miRNA) expression profiles.
METHODS: The interactions between PDAC cells and mesothelial monolayers were characterised and quantified using a specific time-lapse videomicroscopy assay. Pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma cells were further evaluated using the adhesion assay, and miRNA, mRNA and protein expressions were determined using microarray, q-RT-PCR and western blots, respectively. These data were correlated with in vivo dissemination scores.
RESULTS: Two groups of PDAC cell lines were distinguished by their integration capacity into the mesothelial monolayer using mean elongation factors (MEFs). Adhesion assays showed a concordant relation between adhesive properties and integration capacity. The distant metastases scores were reverse correlated with MEFs. Microarray analysis of these groups revealed that miR-23a and/or miR-24 target for FZD5, HNF1B and/or TMEM92, respectively, and that they are significantly deregulated.
CONCLUSIONS: MiR-23a and/or miR-24 overexpression leads to gene silencing of FZD5, TMEM92 and/or HNF1B. Their downregulation induces deregulated expression and degradation of E-cadherin and β-catenin causing destabilisation of the cadherin/catenin complex, and altered the expression of Wnt-related genes. We propose a molecular (epi)genetic mechanism by which increased EMT-like cell shape transformation and integration into mesothelial monolayers of PDAC cells can be observed.

Falahi F, van Kruchten M, Martinet N, et al.
Current and upcoming approaches to exploit the reversibility of epigenetic mutations in breast cancer.
Breast Cancer Res. 2014; 16(4):412 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 06/01/2016 Related Publications
DNA methylation and histone modifications are important epigenetic modifications associated with gene (dys)regulation. The epigenetic modifications are balanced by epigenetic enzymes, so-called writers and erasers, such as DNA (de)methylases and histone (de)acetylases. Aberrant epigenetic alterations have been associated with various diseases, including breast cancer. Since aberrant epigenetic modifications are potentially reversible, they might represent targets for breast cancer therapy. Indeed, several drugs have been designed to inhibit epigenetic enzymes (epi-drugs), thereby reversing epigenetic modifications. US Food and Drug Administration approval has been obtained for some epi-drugs for hematological malignancies. However, these drugs have had very modest anti-tumor efficacy in phase I and II clinical trials in breast cancer patients as monotherapy. Therefore, current clinical trials focus on the combination of epi-drugs with other therapies to enhance or restore the sensitivity to such therapies. This approach has yielded some promising results in early phase II trials. The disadvantage of epi-drugs, however, is genome-wide effects, which may cause unwanted upregulation of, for example, pro-metastatic genes. Development of gene-targeted epigenetic modifications (epigenetic editing) in breast cancer can provide a novel approach to prevent such unwanted events. In this context, identification of crucial epigenetic modifications regulating key genes in breast cancer is of critical importance. In this review, we first describe aberrant DNA methylation and histone modifications as two important classes of epigenetic mutations in breast cancer. Then we focus on the preclinical and clinical epigenetic-based therapies currently being explored for breast cancer. Finally, we describe epigenetic editing as a promising new approach for possible applications towards more targeted breast cancer treatment.

Ilse P, Biesterfeld S, Pomjanski N, et al.
Analysis of SHOX2 methylation as an aid to cytology in lung cancer diagnosis.
Cancer Genomics Proteomics. 2014 Sep-Oct; 11(5):251-8 [PubMed] Related Publications
BACKGROUND/AIM: The Epi proLung® BL Reflex Assay [short stature homeobox gene two methylation assay (SHOX2 assay)] (Epigenomics AG, Berlin, Germany) utilizes quantitative methylation-sensitive real-time polymerase chain reaction (QMSP) for the quantification of methylated short stature homeobox gene two (SHOX2) DNA. In the present study, the diagnostic utility of the SHOX2 assay was tested with regard to cytology for different cytological diagnostic categories to assess whether it can complement the cytological examination and the DNA methylation marker panel targeting the gene promoters of adenomatous polyposis coli 1A (APC), cyclin-dependent kinase inhibitor-2A (p16(INK4A)) and Ras association domain family protein 1 (RASSF1A) regarding lung cancer detection in bronchial aspirates.
MATERIALS AND METHODS: Prospectively collected DNA from 169 patients (cytological diagnosis: 47 tumor-positive, 56 equivocal and 66 tumor-negative) was analyzed for SHOX2 DNA methylation utilizing QMSP. Patients were followed-up for a period of 11 months maximum.
RESULTS: When equivocal diagnoses were categorized as tumor-positive, cytology and SHOX2 DNA methylation achieved 72% and 64% sensitivity and 63% and 98% specificity, respectively. SHOX2 DNA methylation identified 66% of the patients with cancer subsequent to a cytological equivocal diagnosis. SHOX2 complements the cytological diagnosis and the methylation marker panel.
CONCLUSION: The assay could be of use for the improvement of diagnostic accuracy if applied subsequent to equivocal or negative cytology (sensitivity=69%, specificity=98%). Furthermore, the SHOX2 assay can complement a methylation-based marker panel.

Gokhale P, Mania-Pramanik J, Sonawani A, et al.
Cervical cancer in Indian women reveals contrasting association among common sub-family of HLA class I alleles.
Immunogenetics. 2014; 66(12):683-91 [PubMed] Related Publications
We studied the relationship between human leukocyte antigen (HLA) class I alleles and cervical cancer among Indian women. Seventy-five cervical cancer cases were compared with 175 noncancer controls. Cervical biopsy tissue specimen from cancer cases and cervical swab specimen from controls were collected for HPV detection and typing. Blood was taken for HLA typing by PCR-SSOP method. The impact of HLA class I alleles on cervical cancer risk was evaluated using StatCalc program (Epi Info version 6.0.4. CDC Atlanta, GA, USA), and confirmed with Bonferroni correction. Results revealed HLA-B*37, HLA-B*58 were associated significantly with increased risk while HLA-B*40 with decreased risk for cervical cancer. At high-resolution analysis after Bonferroni correction, HLA-B*37:01 allele was associated with increased risk, whereas HLA-B*40:06 was with decreased risk for cervical cancer. HLA-B*37:01 and HLA-B*40:06 belong to the same superfamily of HLA-B44. In silico analysis revealed different binding affinities of HLA-B*37:01 and HLA-B*40:06 for the epitopes predicted for E6 and L1 proteins of HPV16. The higher binding affinity of epitopes to B*40:06, as revealed by docking studies, supports the hypothesis that this allele is able to present the antigenic peptides more efficiently than B*37:01 and thereby can protect the carriers from the risk of cervical cancer. Thus, there is a clear indication that HLA plays an important role in the development of cervical cancer in HPV-infected women. Identification of these factors in high-risk HPV-infected women may help in reducing the cervical cancer burden in India.

Lai YH, He RY, Chou JL, et al.
Promoter hypermethylation and silencing of tissue factor pathway inhibitor-2 in oral squamous cell carcinoma.
J Transl Med. 2014; 12:237 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 06/01/2016 Related Publications
BACKGROUND: The treatment of oral squamous cell carcinoma (OSCC) following early detection is associated with good outcomes. Therefore, the survival and prognosis of OSCC patients could be hugely improved by identifying reliable biomarkers for the early diagnosis of the disease. Our previous methylation microarray analysis results have suggested that the gene encoding tissue factor pathway inhibitor-2 (TFPI-2) is a potential clinical predictor as well as a key regulator involved in OSCC malignancy.
METHODS: Methylation of the TFPI-2 promoter in oral tissue specimens was evaluated by bisulfite sequencing assay, quantitative methylation-specific PCR, and pyrosequencing assay. The differences in methylation levels among the groups were compared using the Mann-Whitney U test. The area under the receiver operating characteristic curve (AUROC) was used to evaluate the discrimination ability for detecting OSCC. Cellular TFPI-2 expression was analyzed by quantitative reverse-transcription PCR before and after treatment with 5'-aza-2'-deoxycytidine and trichostatin A, to confirm whether TFPI-2 was epigenetically silenced in OSCC cells. We investigated whether TFPI-2 plays a role as a tumor suppressor by establishing TFPI-2-overexpressing OSCC cells and subjecting them to in vitro cellular proliferation, migration, and invasion assays, as well as an in vivo metastasis assay.
RESULTS: TFPI-2 was hypermethylated in OSCC tissues versus normal oral tissues (P < 0.0001), with AUROC = 0.91, when using a pyrosequencing assay to quantify the methylation level. TFPI-2 silencing in OSCC was regulated by both DNA methylation and chromatin histone modification. Restoration of TFPI-2 counteracted the invasiveness of OSCC by inhibiting the enzymatic activity of matrix metalloproteinase-2, and consequently interfered with OSCC metastasis in vivo.
CONCLUSIONS: Our data suggest strongly that TFPI-2 is a down-regulated tumor suppressor gene in OSCC, probably involving epigenetic silencing mechanisms. The loss of TFPI-2 expression is a key event for oral tumorigenesis, especially in the process of tumor metastasis.

Felipe AV, Moraes AA, de Oliveira J, et al.
Establishment and partial characterization of an epirubicin-resistant gastric cancer cell line with upregulated ABCB1.
Asian Pac J Cancer Prev. 2014; 15(16):6849-53 [PubMed] Related Publications
Multidrug resistance (MDR) is a major impediment to successful chemotherapy of gastric cancer. Our aim was to establish an epirubicin-resistant cell subline (AGS/EPI) and to elucidate the mechanisms involved in acquired EPI resistance. The AGS/EPI cell subline developed by exposing parental AGS cells to stepwise increasing concentrations of EPI demonstrated 2.52-fold resistance relative to the AGS cell line, and mRNA expression of the ATP-dependent drug-efflux pump P-glycoprotein (Pgp), more recently known as ABCB1 protein, was similarly upregulated. An AGS/EPI cell subline could thus be effectively established, and MDR mechanism of these cells was shown to be related to the overexpression of mRNA of the ABCB1 gene.

Ueda J, Ho JC, Lee KL, et al.
The hypoxia-inducible epigenetic regulators Jmjd1a and G9a provide a mechanistic link between angiogenesis and tumor growth.
Mol Cell Biol. 2014; 34(19):3702-20 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 06/01/2016 Related Publications
Hypoxia promotes stem cell maintenance and tumor progression, but it remains unclear how it regulates long-term adaptation toward these processes. We reveal a striking downregulation of the hypoxia-inducible histone H3 lysine 9 (H3K9) demethylase JMJD1A as a hallmark of clinical human germ cell-derived tumors, such as seminomas, yolk sac tumors, and embryonal carcinomas. Jmjd1a was not essential for stem cell self-renewal but played a crucial role as a tumor suppressor in opposition to the hypoxia-regulated oncogenic H3K9 methyltransferase G9a. Importantly, loss of Jmjd1a resulted in increased tumor growth, whereas loss of G9a produced smaller tumors. Pharmacological inhibition of G9a also resulted in attenuation of tumor growth, offering a novel therapeutic strategy for germ cell-derived tumors. Finally, Jmjd1a and G9a drive mutually opposing expression of the antiangiogenic factor genes Robo4, Igfbp4, Notch4, and Tfpi accompanied by changes in H3K9 methylation status. Thus, we demonstrate a novel mechanistic link whereby hypoxia-regulated epigenetic changes are instrumental for the control of tumor growth through coordinated dysregulation of antiangiogenic gene expression.

Mino K, Nishimura S, Ninomiya S, et al.
Regulation of tissue factor pathway inhibitor-2 (TFPI-2) expression by lysine-specific demethylase 1 and 2 (LSD1 and LSD2).
Biosci Biotechnol Biochem. 2014; 78(6):1010-7 [PubMed] Related Publications
Tissue factor pathway inhibitor-2 (TFPI-2) is a major inhibitor of extracellular matrix degradation. Decreases in TFPI-2 contribute to malignant tumor cell production, and TFPI-2 is a presumed tumor suppressor. TFPI-2 gene transcription is regulated by two epigenetic mechanisms: DNA methylation of the promoter and K4 methylation of histone 3 (H3). Lysine-specific demethylase 1 (LSD1) and LSD2 demethylate H3K4me2/1. LSD1 has been implicated in TFPI-2 regulation through both epigenetic mechanisms, but the involvement of LSD2 remains unknown. We prepared a monoclonal anti-LSD2 antibody that clearly distinguishes LSD2 from LSD1. Knockdown of LSD1 or LSD2 by siRNAs increased TFPI-2 protein and mRNA. Simultaneous knockdown of both LSD1 and LSD2 showed additive effects. Bisulfite sequencing revealed that CpG sites in the TFPI-2 promoter region were unmethylated. These results indicate that LSD2 also contributes to TFPI-2 regulation through histone modification, and that further studies of the involvement of LSD2 in tumor malignancy are warranted.

Asad M, Wong MK, Tan TZ, et al.
FZD7 drives in vitro aggressiveness in Stem-A subtype of ovarian cancer via regulation of non-canonical Wnt/PCP pathway.
Cell Death Dis. 2014; 5:e1346 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 06/01/2016 Related Publications
Ovarian cancer (OC) can be classified into five biologically distinct molecular subgroups: epithelial-A (Epi-A), Epi-B, mesenchymal (Mes), Stem-A and Stem-B. Among them, Stem-A expresses genes relating to stemness and is correlated with poor clinical prognosis. In this study, we show that frizzled family receptor 7 (FZD7), a receptor for Wnt signalling, is overexpressed in the Stem-A subgroup. To elucidate the functional roles of FZD7, we used an RNA interference gene knockdown approach in three Stem-A cell lines: CH1, PA1 and OV-17R. Si-FZD7 OC cells showed reduced cell proliferation with an increase in the G0/G1 sub-population, with no effect on apoptosis. The cells also displayed a distinctive morphologic change by colony compaction to become more epithelial-like and polarised with smaller internuclear distances and increased z-axis height. Immunofluorescence (IF) staining patterns of pan-cadherin and β-catenin suggested an increase in cadherin-based cell-cell adhesion in si-FZD7 cells. We also observed a significant rearrangement in the actin cytoskeleton and an increase in tensile contractility in si-FZD7 OC cells, as evident by the loss of stress fibres and the redistribution of phospho-myosin light chain (pMLC) from the sites of cell-cell contacts to the periphery of cell colonies. Furthermore, there was reciprocal regulation of RhoA (Ras homolog family member A) and Rac1 (Ras-related C3 botulinum toxin substrate 1 (Rho family, small GTP-binding protein Rac1)) activities upon FZD7 knockdown, with a significant reduction in RhoA activity and a concomitant upregulation in Rac1 activity. These changes in pMLC and RhoA, as well as the increased TopFlash reporter activities in si-FZD7 cells, suggested involvement of the non-canonical Wnt/planar cell polarity (PCP) pathway. Selected PCP pathway genes (cadherin EGF LAG seven-pass G-type receptor 3 (CELSR3), prickle homolog 4 (Drosophila) (PRICKLE4), dishevelled-associated activator of morphogenesis 1 (DAAM1), profilin 2 (PFN2), protocadherin 9 (PCDH9), protocadherin α1 (PCDHA1), protocadherin β17 pseudogene (PCDHB17), protocadherin β3 (PCDHB3), sprouty homolog 1 (SPRY1) and protein tyrosine kinase 7 (PTK7)) were found to be more highly expressed in Stem-A than non Stem-A subgroup of OC. Taken together, our results suggest that FZD7 might drive aggressiveness in Stem-A OC by regulating cell proliferation, cell cycle progression, maintenance of the Mes phenotype and cell migration via casein kinase 1ɛ-mediated non-canonical Wnt/PCP pathway.

Potter NT, Hurban P, White MN, et al.
Validation of a real-time PCR-based qualitative assay for the detection of methylated SEPT9 DNA in human plasma.
Clin Chem. 2014; 60(9):1183-91 [PubMed] Related Publications
BACKGROUND: Epi proColon® is a new blood-based colorectal cancer (CRC) screening test designed to determine the methylation status of a promoter region of the SEPT9 (septin 9) gene in cell-free DNA isolated from plasma. We describe the analytical and clinical performance of the test.
METHODS: Analytical performance at 4 testing laboratories included determination of limit of detection, precision, and reproducibility of the SEPT9 test. Clinical performance was evaluated in a prospective study by use of samples (n = 1544) from subjects enrolled in the PRESEPT clinical trial. Results were analyzed by comparison with colonoscopy, the reference standard.
RESULTS: The limit of detection for methylated SEPT9 DNA was 7.8 pg/mL (95% CI 6-11 pg/mL) corresponding to <2 genome copies of methylated SEPT9 per milliliter of plasma. In the prospective clinical trial, sensitivity for all stages of CRC was 68% (95% CI 53%-80%) and for stage I-III CRC, 64% (48%-77%). Adjusted specificity, on the basis of negative colonoscopy findings, was 80.0% (78%-82%).
SIGNIFICANCE: The Epi proColon test is a simple, real-time PCR-based assay for the detection of methylated SEPT9 DNA in blood that may provide a noninvasive CRC screening alternative for people noncompliant with current CRC screening guidelines.

Boudot A, Kerdivel G, Lecomte S, et al.
COUP-TFI modifies CXCL12 and CXCR4 expression by activating EGF signaling and stimulates breast cancer cell migration.
BMC Cancer. 2014; 14:407 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 06/01/2016 Related Publications
BACKGROUND: The orphan receptors COUP-TF (chicken ovalbumin upstream promoter transcription factor) I and II are members of the nuclear receptor superfamily that play distinct and critical roles in vertebrate organogenesis. The involvement of COUP-TFs in cancer development has recently been suggested by several studies but remains poorly understood.
METHODS: MCF-7 breast cancer cells overexpressing COUP-TFI and human breast tumors were used to investigate the role of COUP-TFI in the regulation of CXCL12/CXCR4 signaling axis in relation to cell growth and migration. We used Immunofluorescence, western-blot, RT-PCR, Formaldehyde-assisted Isolation of Regulatory Elements (FAIRE) assays, as well as cell proliferation and migration assays.
RESULTS: Previously, we showed that COUP-TFI expression is enhanced in breast cancer compared to normal tissue. Here, we report that the CXCL12/CXCR4 signaling pathway, a crucial pathway in cell growth and migration, is an endogenous target of COUP-TFI in breast cancer cells. The overexpression of COUP-TFI in MCF-7 cells inhibits the expression of the chemokine CXCL12 and markedly enhances the expression of its receptor, CXCR4. Our results demonstrate that the modification of CXCL12/CXCR4 expression by COUP-TFI is mediated by the activation of epithelial growth factor (EGF) and the EGF receptor. Furthermore, we provide evidence that these effects of COUP-TFI increase the growth and motility of MCF-7 cells in response to CXCL12. Cell migration toward a CXCL12 gradient was inhibited by AMD3100, a specific antagonist of CXCR4, or in the presence of excess CXCL12 in the cell culture medium. The expression profiles of CXCR4, CXCR7, CXCL12, and COUP-TFI mRNA in 82 breast tumors and control non-tumor samples were measured using real-time PCR. CXCR4 expression was found to be significantly increased in the tumors and correlated with the tumor grade, whereas the expression of CXCL12 was significantly decreased in the tumors compared with the healthy samples. Significantly higher COUP-TFI mRNA expression was also detected in grade 1 tumors.
CONCLUSIONS: Together, our mechanistic in vitro assays and in vivo results suggest that a reduction in chemokine CXCL12 expression, with an enhancement of CXCR4 expression, provoked by COUP-TFI, could be associated with an increase in the invasive potential of breast cancer cells.

Li Y, Li S, Chen J, et al.
Comparative epigenetic analyses reveal distinct patterns of oncogenic pathways activation in breast cancer subtypes.
Hum Mol Genet. 2014; 23(20):5378-93 [PubMed] Related Publications
Breast cancer is a highly heterogeneous disease that is characterized by genetic and epigenetic aberrations; however, our knowledge of epigenetic alterations of breast cancer subtypes remains limited. Here, we portrayed and compared the alterations of six types of histone modifications and DNA methylation between two breast cancer subtypes, luminal and basal. Widespread subtype-specific epigenetic alterations were observed in both subtypes, which preferentially occurred within CpG islands (CGIs) and promoter regions. Specifically, aberrant DNA methylation was mostly located inside CGIs in luminal subtype, whereas in basal subtype it was principally located within CGI shores. Moreover, different types and combinatorial patterns of epigenetic alterations were found to occupy at promoter regions between these two subtypes. And these epigenetic alterations regulated corresponding gene expression in a synergetic way in both subtypes. Functional enrichment analysis highlighted that epigenetically dysregulated genes were significantly involved in the hallmarks of cancers, most of which were subtype specific. Even genes involved in the same hallmarks associated biological processes were affected by various types of epi-modifications in different subtypes. Finally, we revealed distinct patterns of oncogenic pathways activation in different subtypes and provided novel insights into subtype specific therapeutic opportunities. In addition, genes in the key signaling pathways were able to discriminate between disease phenotypes, and subtype-specific progression associated genes were identified. This study presents the aberrant epigenetic patterns of breast cancer subtypes at a genome-wide level, which will be a highly valuable resource for investigations at understanding epigenetic regulation of breast cancer subtypes.

Steenbergen RD, Snijders PJ, Heideman DA, Meijer CJ
Clinical implications of (epi)genetic changes in HPV-induced cervical precancerous lesions.
Nat Rev Cancer. 2014; 14(6):395-405 [PubMed] Related Publications
Infection of cervical epithelium with high-risk human papilloma virus (hrHPV) might result in productive or transforming cervical intraepithelial neoplasia (CIN) lesions, the morphology of which can overlap. In transforming CIN lesions, aberrations in host cell genes accumulate over time, which is necessary for the ultimate progression to cancer. On the basis of (epi)genetic changes, early and advanced transforming CIN lesions can be distinguished. This paves the way for new molecular tools for cervical screening, diagnosis and management of cervical cancer precursor lesions.

Dellino GI, Pelicci PG
Next-generation sequencing and DNA replication in human cells: the future has arrived.
Future Oncol. 2014; 10(4):683-93 [PubMed] Related Publications
Accurate regulation of DNA replication ensures faithful transmission of eukaryotic genomes and maintenance of genomic stability and chromatin organization. However, by itself the replication process is a threat for both DNA and chromatin integrity. This becomes particularly relevant in cancer cells, where activated oncogenes induce replication-stress, including unscheduled initiation, fork stalling and collapse and, ultimately, genomic instability. Studies addressing the relationship between (epi)genome integrity and disease have been hampered by our poor knowledge of the mechanisms regulating where and when eukaryotic replication initiates. Recently developed genome-scale methods for the analysis of DNA replication in mammals will contribute to the identification of missing links between replication, chromatin regulation and genome stability in normal and cancer cells.

Ferraresso S, Bresolin S, Aricò A, et al.
Epigenetic silencing of TFPI-2 in canine diffuse large B-cell lymphoma.
PLoS One. 2014; 9(4):e92707 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 06/01/2016 Related Publications
Epigenetic modifications are important early events during carcinogenesis. In particular, hypermethylation of CpG islands in the promoter region of tumor suppressor genes is a well-known mechanism of gene silencing that contributes to cancer development and progression. Tissue factor pathway inhibitor 2 (TFPI-2) is a tumor suppressor involved in invasiveness inhibition. Although TFPI-2 transcriptional silencing, through promoter hypermethylation, has been widely reported in several human malignancies, it has never been explored in lymphoma. In the present study TFPI-2 methylation and gene expression have been investigated in canine Diffuse Large B-cell lymphomas (cDLBCL). The methylation level of 23 CpGs located within the TFPI-2 promoter was investigated by bisulfite-specific PCR and next generation amplicon deep sequencing (GS Junior 454, Roche) in 22 cDLBCLs and 9 controls. For the same specimens, TFPI-2 gene expression was assessed by means of Real-time RT-PCR. Sequence analysis clearly demonstrated that TFPI2 is frequently hypermethylated in cDLBCL. Hypermethylation of the TFPI-2 promoter was found in 77% of DLBCLs (17 out of 22) and in one normal lymph node. Globally, dogs with DLBCL showed a mean methylation level significantly increased compared to controls (p<0.01) and analysis of hypermethylation by site identified 19 loci out of 23 (82%) with mean methylation levels from 2- to 120-fold higher in cDLBCL. Gene expression analysis confirmed a significant down-regulation of TFPI-2 (p<0.05) in DLBCLs compared with normal lymph nodes, suggesting that TFPI-2 hypermethylation negatively regulates its transcription. In addition, a significant positive correlation (p<0.01) was found between TFPI-2 methylation levels and age providing the first indication of age-associated epigenetic modifications in canine DLBCL. To conclude, our findings demonstrated that epigenetic dysregulation of TFPI-2, leading to its reduced expression, is frequently detected in canine DLBCL. In the next future, the aberrant TFPI-2 promoter hypermethylation may be considered in association with prognosis and therapy.

Hu DG, Rogers A, Mackenzie PI
Epirubicin upregulates UDP glucuronosyltransferase 2B7 expression in liver cancer cells via the p53 pathway.
Mol Pharmacol. 2014; 85(6):887-97 [PubMed] Related Publications
Anthracyclines are effective genotoxic anticancer drugs for treating human malignancies; however, their clinical use is limited by tumor resistance and severe cardiotoxicity (e.g., congestive heart failure). Epirubicin (EPI) is less cardiotoxic compared with other canonical anthracyclines (e.g., doxorubicin). This has been attributed to its unique glucuronidation detoxification pathway. EPI is primarily inactivated by UDP-glucuronosyltransferase 2B7 (UGT2B7) in the liver. Hence, the regulation of hepatic UGT2B7 expression is critical for EPI systemic clearance but remains poorly characterized. We show herein that EPI upregulates UGT2B7 expression in hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) HepG2 and Huh7 cells. Our analyses of deleted and mutated UGT2B7 promoter constructs identified a p53 response element (p53RE) in the UGT2B7 promoter. EPI stimulated UGT2B7 promoter activity via this p53RE and enhanced in vivo p53 binding at this p53RE in HepG2 cells. Knockdown of p53 expression by small interfering RNA silencing technology significantly repressed the capacity of EPI to stimulate UGT2B7 transcription. Furthermore, the p53 activator nutlin-3α significantly enhanced UGT2B7 expression and recruited the p53 protein to the UGT2B7 p53RE in HepG2 cells. Collectively, our results demonstrated that EPI promotes its own detoxification via the p53-mediated pathway. This regulation may contribute to tumor resistance to EPI-containing HCC chemotherapy and may also provide a new explanation for the reduced cardiotoxicity of EPI compared with other anthracyclines. Our finding also suggests that upon exposure to genotoxic agents, detoxifying genes are activated by the p53-mediated pathway to clear genotoxic agents locally within the tumor site or even systemically through the liver.

Hoivik EA, Kusonmano K, Halle MK, et al.
Hypomethylation of the CTCFL/BORIS promoter and aberrant expression during endometrial cancer progression suggests a role as an Epi-driver gene.
Oncotarget. 2014; 5(4):1052-61 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 06/01/2016 Related Publications
Cancers arise through accumulating genetic and epigenetic alterations, considered relevant for phenotype and approaches to targeting new therapies. We investigated a unique collection of endometrial cancer precursor samples and clinically annotated primary and metastatic lesions for two evolutionary and functionally related transcription factors, CCCTC-binding factor (zinc finger protein) (CTCF) and its paralogue CTCF-like factor, also denoted Brother of the Regulator of Imprinted Sites (CTCFL/BORIS). CTCF, a chromatin modeling- and transcription factor, is normally expressed in a ubiquitous fashion, while CTCFL/BORIS is restricted to the testis. In cancer, CTCF is thought to be a tumor suppressor, while CTCFL/BORIS has been suggested as an oncogene. CTCF mutations were identified in 13%, with CTCF hotspot frameshift mutations at p.T204, all observed solely in the endometrioid subtype, but with no association with outcome. Interestingly, CTCFL/BORIS was amongst the top ranked genes differentially expressed between endometrioid and non-endometrioid tumors, and increasing mRNA level of CTCFL/BORIS was highly significantly associated with poor survival. As aberrant CTCFL/BORIS expression might relate to loss of methylation, we explored methylation status in clinical samples from complex atypical hyperplasia, through primary tumors to metastatic lesions, demonstrating a pattern of DNA methylation loss during disease development and progression in line with the increase in CTCFL/BORIS mRNA expression observed. Thus, CTCF and CTCFL/BORIS are found to diverge in the different subtypes of endometrial cancer, with CTCFL/BORIS activation through demethylation from precursors to metastatic lesions. We thus propose, CTCFL/BORIS as an Epi-driver gene in endometrial cancer, suggesting a potential for future vaccine development.

Zhu B, Zhang P, Zeng P, et al.
Tissue factor pathway inhibitor-2 silencing promotes hepatocellular carcinoma cell invasion in vitro.
Anat Rec (Hoboken). 2013; 296(11):1708-16 [PubMed] Related Publications
Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is a leading cause of cancer-related death in the world and metastasis is an essential aspect of HCC progression. Tissue factor pathway inhibitor-2 (TFPI-2) has been implicated as a potential suppressor gene to regulate tumor invasion and metastasis. In this study, we silenced TFPI-2 in the HCC cell line MHCC97-L and evaluated the role of TFPI-2 in cell invasion and its impact on gene expression. We showed in this study that stable TFPI-2 downregulation in MHCC97-L cells resulted in increased cell adhesion and invasion. We also showed that mRNA and protein expression levels of MMP-1/3, CD44, and ICAM-1 were increased, while those of MMP-2/9 were not changed by TFPI-2 silencing. Furthermore, silencing of TFPI-2 caused increased Akt phosphorylation level and NF-κB transcription in MHCC97-L cells. In conclusion, this study confirms that TFPI-2 downregulation can contribute to tumor invasion of HCC cells through alteration in the expression of metastasis-related genes.

Zhang W, Wan YW, Allen GI, et al.
Molecular pathway identification using biological network-regularized logistic models.
BMC Genomics. 2013; 14 Suppl 8:S7 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 06/01/2016 Related Publications
BACKGROUND: Selecting genes and pathways indicative of disease is a central problem in computational biology. This problem is especially challenging when parsing multi-dimensional genomic data. A number of tools, such as L1-norm based regularization and its extensions elastic net and fused lasso, have been introduced to deal with this challenge. However, these approaches tend to ignore the vast amount of a priori biological network information curated in the literature.
RESULTS: We propose the use of graph Laplacian regularized logistic regression to integrate biological networks into disease classification and pathway association problems. Simulation studies demonstrate that the performance of the proposed algorithm is superior to elastic net and lasso analyses. Utility of this algorithm is also validated by its ability to reliably differentiate breast cancer subtypes using a large breast cancer dataset recently generated by the Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA) consortium. Many of the protein-protein interaction modules identified by our approach are further supported by evidence published in the literature. Source code of the proposed algorithm is freely available at
CONCLUSION: Logistic regression with graph Laplacian regularization is an effective algorithm for identifying key pathways and modules associated with disease subtypes. With the rapid expansion of our knowledge of biological regulatory networks, this approach will become more accurate and increasingly useful for mining transcriptomic, epi-genomic, and other types of genome wide association studies.

Yang Q, Shao Y, Shi J, et al.
Concomitant PIK3CA amplification and RASSF1A or PAX6 hypermethylation predict worse survival in gastric cancer.
Clin Biochem. 2014; 47(1-2):111-6 [PubMed] Related Publications
OBJECTIVES: A large number of genetic and epigenetic alterations have been found in gastric cancer, but there is remarkably little consensus on the value of individual biomarker in diagnosis and prognosis of this cancer. This study was designed to illustrate the value of PIK3CA amplification in combination with promoter methylation of RASSF1A and PAX6 genes in early diagnosis and prognosis of gastric cancer.
DESIGN AND METHODS: Using real-time quantitative PCR, quantitative methylation-specific PCR (Q-MSP), and methylation-specific PCR (MSP) assays, we examined PIK3CA amplification and promoter methylation of RASSF1A and PAX6 genes in a cohort of gastric cancers, and explored the association of various (epi)genotypes with clinical outcomes of gastric cancer patients.
RESULTS: We demonstrated that PIK3CA gene was specifically amplified in gastric cancers, but not in normal gastric tissues. Moreover, frequent methylation of RASSF1A and PAX6 was also found in gastric cancers. Given the patients harboring diverse (epi)genotypes, we thus investigated the effect of various (epi)genotypes on poor prognosis in gastric cancer. The data showed that concomitant PIK3CA amplification and RASSF1A or PAX6 methylation were closely associated with poor clinical outcomes, particularly survival, as compared to other (epi)genotypes in gastric cancer.
CONCLUSIONS: We found frequent PIK3CA amplification and promoter methylation of RASSF1A and PAX6 genes in gastric cancers, and demonstrated that concomitant PIK3CA amplification and promoter methylation in any one of these two genes were significantly associated with worse survival in gastric cancer. Collectively, such (epi)genotypes may be strong and independent poor prognostic factors for gastric cancer patients.

Hall JS, Iype R, Senra J, et al.
Investigation of radiosensitivity gene signatures in cancer cell lines.
PLoS One. 2014; 9(1):e86329 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 06/01/2016 Related Publications
Intrinsic radiosensitivity is an important factor underlying radiotherapy response, but there is no method for its routine assessment in human tumours. Gene signatures are currently being derived and some were previously generated by expression profiling the NCI-60 cell line panel. It was hypothesised that focusing on more homogeneous tumour types would be a better approach. Two cell line cohorts were used derived from cervix [n = 16] and head and neck [n = 11] cancers. Radiosensitivity was measured as surviving fraction following irradiation with 2 Gy (SF2) by clonogenic assay. Differential gene expression between radiosensitive and radioresistant cell lines (SF2 median) was investigated using Affymetrix GeneChip Exon 1.0ST (cervix) or U133A Plus2 (head and neck) arrays. There were differences within cell line cohorts relating to tissue of origin reflected by expression of the stratified epithelial marker p63. Of 138 genes identified as being associated with SF2, only 2 (1.4%) were congruent between the cervix and head and neck carcinoma cell lines (MGST1 and TFPI), and these did not partition the published NCI-60 cell lines based on SF2. There was variable success in applying three published radiosensitivity signatures to our cohorts. One gene signature, originally trained on the NCI-60 cell lines, did partially separate sensitive and resistant cell lines in all three cell line datasets. The findings do not confirm our hypothesis but suggest that a common transcriptional signature can reflect the radiosensitivity of tumours of heterogeneous origins.

Huang G, Krocker JD, Kirk JL, et al.
Evaluation of INK4A promoter methylation using pyrosequencing and circulating cell-free DNA from patients with hepatocellular carcinoma.
Clin Chem Lab Med. 2014; 52(6):899-909 [PubMed] Related Publications
BACKGROUND: Hyper-methylation of CpG dinucleotides in the promoter region of inhibitor of cyclin-dependent kinase 4A (INK4A) has been reported in 60%-80% of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). As INK4A promoter hypermethylation event occurs early in HCC progression, the quantification of INK4A promoter methylation in blood sample may represent a useful biomarker for non-invasive diagnosis and prediction of response to therapy.
METHODS: We examined INK4A promoter methylation using circulating cell-free DNA (ccfDNA) in a total of 109 serum specimens, including 66 HCC and 43 benign chronic liver diseases. Methylation of the individual seven CpG sites was examined using pyrosequencing.
RESULTS: Our results showed that there were significantly higher levels of methylated INK4A in HCC specimens than controls and that the seven CpG sites had different levels of methylation and might exist in different PCR amplicons. The area under receiver operating characteristic (ROC) curve was 0.82, with 65.3% sensitivity and 87.2% specificity at 5% (LOD), 39.0% sensitivity and 96.5% specificity at 7% LOD, and 20.3% sensitivity and 98.8% specificity at 10% LOD, respectively.
CONCLUSIONS: Our results support additional studies incorporating INK4A methylation testing of ccfDNA to further validate the diagnostic, predictive, and prognostic characteristics of this biomarker in HCC patients. The knowledge of the existence of epi-alleles should help improve assay design to maximize detection.

Li C, Lee PS, Sun Y, et al.
Estradiol and mTORC2 cooperate to enhance prostaglandin biosynthesis and tumorigenesis in TSC2-deficient LAM cells.
J Exp Med. 2014; 211(1):15-28 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 06/01/2016 Related Publications
Lymphangioleiomyomatosis (LAM) is a progressive neoplastic disorder that leads to lung destruction and respiratory failure primarily in women. LAM is typically caused by tuberous sclerosis complex 2 (TSC2) mutations resulting in mTORC1 activation in proliferative smooth muscle-like cells in the lung. The female predominance of LAM suggests that estradiol contributes to disease development. Metabolomic profiling identified an estradiol-enhanced prostaglandin biosynthesis signature in Tsc2-deficient (TSC(-)) cells, both in vitro and in vivo. Estradiol increased the expression of cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2), a rate-limiting enzyme in prostaglandin biosynthesis, which was also increased at baseline in TSC-deficient cells and was not affected by rapamycin treatment. However, both Torin 1 treatment and Rictor knockdown led to reduced COX-2 expression and phospho-Akt-S473. Prostaglandin production was also increased in TSC-deficient cells. In preclinical models, both Celecoxib and aspirin reduced tumor development. LAM patients had significantly higher serum prostaglandin levels than healthy women. 15-epi-lipoxin-A4 was identified in exhaled breath condensate from LAM subjects and was increased by aspirin treatment, indicative of functional COX-2 expression in the LAM airway. In vitro, 15-epi-lipoxin-A4 reduced the proliferation of LAM patient-derived cells in a dose-dependent manner. Targeting COX-2 and prostaglandin pathways may have therapeutic value in LAM and TSC-related diseases, and possibly in other conditions associated with mTOR hyperactivation.

Scott A, Song J, Ewing R, Wang Z
Regulation of protein stability of DNA methyltransferase 1 by post-translational modifications.
Acta Biochim Biophys Sin (Shanghai). 2014; 46(3):199-203 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 06/01/2016 Related Publications
DNA methylation is an important epigenetic mechanism that ensures correct gene expression and maintains genetic stability. DNA methyltransferase 1 (DNMT1) is the primary enzyme that maintains DNA methylation during replication. Dysregulation of DNMT1 is implicated in a variety of diseases. DNMT1 protein stability is regulated via various post-translational modifications, such as acetylation and ubiquitination, but also through protein-protein interactions. These mechanisms ensure DNMT1 is properly activated during the correct time of the cell cycle and at correct genomic loci, as well as in response to appropriate extracellular cues. Further understanding of these regulatory mechanisms may help to design novel therapeutic approaches for human diseases.

Mostaghel EA, Plymate SR, Montgomery B
Molecular pathways: targeting resistance in the androgen receptor for therapeutic benefit.
Clin Cancer Res. 2014; 20(4):791-8 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 06/01/2016 Related Publications
Androgen receptor signaling is critical in the development and progression of prostate cancer, leading to intensive efforts to elucidate all potential points of inflection for therapeutic intervention. These efforts have revealed new mechanisms of resistance and raise the possibility that known mechanisms may become even more relevant in the context of effective androgen receptor suppression. These mechanisms include tumoral appropriation of alternative androgen sources, alterations in androgen receptor expression, androgen receptor mutations, truncated androgen receptor variants, alterations and cross-talk in recruitment of cofactors to androgen receptor binding sites in the genome, and androgen receptor-driven oncogenic gene fusions. New agents such as enzalutamide, EPI-001, androgen receptor-specific peptidomimetics, novel HSP90 inhibitors, and PARP inhibitors, as well as new approaches to cotargeting the androgen receptor pathway, point to the potential for more complete and durable control of androgen receptor-mediated growth.

Safe S, Jin UH, Hedrick E, et al.
Minireview: role of orphan nuclear receptors in cancer and potential as drug targets.
Mol Endocrinol. 2014; 28(2):157-72 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 06/01/2016 Related Publications
The nuclear orphan receptors for which endogenous ligands have not been identified include nuclear receptor (NR)0B1 (adrenal hypoplasia congenita critical region on chromosome X gene), NR0B2 (small heterodimer partner), NR1D1/2 (Rev-Erbα/β), NR2C1 (testicular receptor 2), NR2C2 (testicular receptor 4), NR2E1 (tailless), NR2E3 (photoreceptor-specific NR [PNR]), NR2F1 chicken ovalbumin upstream promoter transcription factor 1 (COUP-TFI), NR2F2 (COUP-TFII), NR2F6 (v-erbA-related protein), NR4A1 (Nur77), NR4A2 (Nurr1), NR4A3 (Nor1), and NR6A1 (GCNF). These receptors play essential roles in development, cellular homeostasis, and disease including cancer where over- or underexpression of some receptors has prognostic significance for patient survival. Results of receptor knockdown or overexpression in vivo and in cancer cell lines demonstrate that orphan receptors exhibit tumor-specific pro-oncogenic or tumor suppressor-like activity. For example, COUP-TFII expression is both a positive (ovarian) and negative (prostate and breast) prognostic factor for cancer patients; in contrast, the prognostic activity of adrenal hypoplasia congenita critical region on chromosome X gene for the same tumors is the inverse of COUP-TFII. Functional studies show that Nur77 is tumor suppressor like in acute leukemia, whereas silencing Nur77 in pancreatic, colon, lung, lymphoma, melanoma, cervical, ovarian, gastric, and some breast cancer cell lines induces one or more of several responses including growth inhibition and decreased survival, migration, and invasion. Although endogenous ligands for the orphan receptors have not been identified, there is increasing evidence that different structural classes of compounds activate, inactivate, and directly bind several orphan receptors. Thus, the screening and development of selective orphan receptor modulators will have important clinical applications as novel mechanism-based agents for treating cancer patients overexpressing one or more orphan receptors and also for combined drug therapies.

Si M, Zhao J, Li X, et al.
Reversion effects of curcumin on multidrug resistance of MNNG/HOS human osteosarcoma cells in vitro and in vivo through regulation of P-glycoprotein.
Chin Med J (Engl). 2013; 126(21):4116-23 [PubMed] Related Publications
BACKGROUND: P-glycoprotein (P-gp) encoded by ATP-binding cassette sub-family B member 1 (ABCB1) gene is a kind of ATP-dependent drug transporter, which plays important roles in multidrug resistance (MDR) of human cancers, such as osteosarcoma. Curcumin is a natural phenolic coloring compound originating from the rhizomes of Curcuma longa, which is proved to possess antitumor biological activities including reversion of MDR. However, the effect and molecular mechanisms of curcumin to osteosarcoma MDR remain unclear.
METHODS: We established a human osteosarcoma drug-resistant cell line MNNG/HOS/MTX by pulse exposure to methotrexate (MTX) and verified that the new cell lines were cross-resistant to other anticancer agents. Then, according to the cytotoxicity assay, we reversed MDR of MNNG/HOS/MTX by 30 µmol/L curcumin, and detected the mechanisms of curcumin reversing MDR through Real-time PCR, Western blotting assay, and Rhodamine123 (Rh123) transport test. Finally, we evaluated the effect of curcumin reversing MDR in vivo by MNNG/HOS/MTX cells xenograft-nude mice model.
RESULTS: MNNG/HOS/MTX was proved to be a human osteosarcoma MDR cell line. MTT tumor chemosensitivity test indicates that 30 µmol/L curcumin attenuates the half maximal inhibitory concentration (IC50) and resistance index (RI) to MTX, diamminedichloroplatinum (DDP), adriamycin (ADM), ifosfamide (IFO), and epirubicin (EPI) in MNNG/HOS/MTX cells (P < 0.05). Real-time PCR and Western blotting assays demonstrated that curcumin down-regulated P-gp expression of MNNG/HOS/MTX cells. Rh123 transport test showed that curcumin inhibited the transport function of P-gp in vitro. In vivo studies showed that curcumin displayed the features of sensitizing antitumor drugs and inhibiting the proliferation, invasion, and metastasis of osteosarcoma MDR cells.
CONCLUSION: Down-regulation of P-gp and inhibition of the function of P-gp efflux pump may contribute to MDR reversion induced by curcumin in vitro and in vivo.

Moelans CB, van der Groep P, Hoefnagel LD, et al.
Genomic evolution from primary breast carcinoma to distant metastasis: Few copy number changes of breast cancer related genes.
Cancer Lett. 2014; 344(1):138-46 [PubMed] Related Publications
Cancer initiation and progression is characterized by (epi)genetic aberrations. However, little is known about the changes that occur during breast cancer metastasis. In the present study, multiplex ligation-dependent probe amplification was used to compare copy numbers of 21 established oncogenes and tumor suppressor genes between 55 primary breast cancer samples and corresponding distant metastases. Distant breast cancer metastases generally showed similar gene copy number aberrations compared to their corresponding primary tumors. The few genes that showed differences between primary tumor and metastasis (PRDM14, MED1, CCNE1, TRAF4, MTDH, CDH1) have been implicated in the development of therapy resistance.

Martinez VD, Vucic EA, Pikor LA, et al.
Frequent concerted genetic mechanisms disrupt multiple components of the NRF2 inhibitor KEAP1/CUL3/RBX1 E3-ubiquitin ligase complex in thyroid cancer.
Mol Cancer. 2013; 12(1):124 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 06/01/2016 Related Publications
BACKGROUND: Reactive oxygen species contribute to normal thyroid function. The NRF2 oxidative response pathway is frequently and constitutively activated in multiple tumor types, including papillary thyroid carcinoma (PTC). Genetic mechanisms underlying NRF2 pathway activation in PTC are not fully understood. Thus, we aimed to determine whether inactivating patterns of DNA-level alterations affect genes encoding for individual NRF2 inhibitor complex components (CUL3/KEAP1/RBX1) occur in PTC.
FINDINGS: Combined patterns of epi/genetic alterations for KEAP1/CUL3/RBX1 E3 ubiquitin-ligase complex components were simultaneously interrogated for a panel of 310 PTC cases and 40 adjacent non-malignant tissues. Data were obtained from The Cancer Genome Atlas project. Enrichment of NRF2 pathway activation was assessed by gene-set enrichment analysis using transcriptome data. Our analyses revealed that PTC sustain a strikingly high frequency (80.6%) of disruption to multiple component genes of the NRF2 inhibitor complex. Hypermethylation is the predominant inactivating mechanism primarily affecting KEAP1 (70.6%) and CUL3 (20%), while copy number loss mostly affects RBX1 (16.8%). Concordantly, NRF2-associated gene expression signatures are positively and significantly enriched in PTC.
CONCLUSIONS: The KEAP1/CUL3/RBX1 E3-ubiquitin ligase complex is almost ubiquitously affected by multiple DNA-level mechanisms and downstream NRF2 pathway targets are activated in PTC. Given the importance of this pathway to normal thyroid function as well as to cancer; targeted inhibition of NRF2 regulators may impact strategies for therapeutic intervention involving this pathway.

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