Expression of the Ring Ligase PRAJA2 in Thyroid Cancer
Castagna, Maria Grazia
Prabhakar, Bellur S.
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Introduction: In thyroid cells, binding of TSH to its receptor increases cAMP levels, sustaining thyrocytes growth and hormone production. The main cAMP effector enzyme is protein kinase A (PKA). Praja2 is a widely expressed RING (Really Interesting New Gene) ligase, which degrades the regulatory subunits of PKA, thus controlling the strengthandduration ofPKAsignaling in response to cAMP. Differentiated thyroid cancer expresses a functional TSH receptor, and its growth and progression are positively regulated by TSH and cAMP signaling. Aim: We aimed to analyze the expression of praja2 in a group of 36 papillary thyroid cancer (PTC), 14 benign nodules, and six anaplastic thyroid cancers (ATC). Methods: We measured praja2 mRNA levels by quantitative RT-PCR and praja2 expression by Western blot and immunohistochemistry. Possible association between praja2 mRNA and the presence of known mutations was evaluated. Results:We foundastatistical significant increase ofmRNAlevels inPTCtissue samples,comparedwith benign nodules and ATC. In particular, mRNA levels were maximal in differentiated thyroid cancer (PTC), progressively decreasing in more aggressive tumors, ATC having the lowest amount of praja2 mRNA. Accordingly, higher levels of praja2 protein were detected in lysates from PTC, compared with ATC. By immunohistochemistry, in PTC sections we observed a marked increase of cytoplasmic praja2 signal, which significantly decreased in less differentiated thyroid tumors, completely disappearing in ATC. Studies in cultured cells stably expressing RET/PTC1 oncogene or mutant BRAF revealed a direct correlationbetweenpraja2mRNAlevelsandmalignant phenotype of transformed cells. Similar results were obtained using thyroid cancer tissues carrying the same mutations. Conclusions: praja2 is markedly overexpressed in differentiated thyroid cancer, and its levels inversely correlate with the malignant phenotype of the tumor. Thus, praja2 is a novel cancer-related gene whose expression is linked to the histotype and mutational status of the thyroid tumor.