JOURNAL ARTICLE

mTOR activation in medullary thyroid carcinoma with RAS mutation

Joana Lyra, João Vinagre, Rui Batista, Vasco Pinto, Hugo Prazeres, Fernando Rodrigues, Catarina Eloy, Manuel Sobrinho-Simões, Paula Soares
European Journal of Endocrinology 2014, 171 (5): 633-40
25163725

OBJECTIVE: Rearranged during transfection (RET) mutations are well-known genetic events in sporadic and familial medullary thyroid carcinoma (FMTC). The presence of RAS mutations in sporadic cases, challenging the RET paradigm in these tumors, has been recently reported. We intend to evaluate mTOR pathway activation in RET- and RAS-mutated MTC.

MATERIALS AND METHODS: In this study, we analysed the presence of RET, H-RAS, and K-RAS mutations in a series of 87 MTCs (82 apparently sporadic and five FMTCs; five apparently sporadic MTCs were eventually found to be familial). We also evaluated mTOR activation--using the expression of its downstream effector phospho-S6 ribosomal protein (p-S6) and the expression of the mTOR inhibitor, phosphatase and tensin homologue deleted on chromosome 10 (PTEN)--by immunohistochemistry.

RESULTS: Our results revealed that RET mutations were present in 52.9% of the cases (46/87) and RAS mutations in 12.6% (11/87) of the whole series of MTCs and 14.3% of the 77 sporadic MTCs. The presence of RET and RAS mutations was mutually exclusive. RAS mutations were significantly associated with higher intensity of p-S6 expression (P=0.007), suggesting that the mTOR pathway is activated in such MTCs. We observed also an increased expression of p-S6 in invasive tumors (P=0.042) and in MTCs with lymph node metastases (P=0.046). Cytoplasmic PTEN expression was detected in 58.8% of the cases; cases WT for RAS showed a significantly lower expression of PTEN (P=0.045).

CONCLUSIONS: We confirmed the presence of RAS mutation in 14.3% of sporadic MTCs and report, for the first time, an association between such mutations and the activation of the mTOR pathway. The evaluation of the mTOR activation by pS6 expression may serve as an indicator of invasive MTC.

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