Detection of high mobility group I HMGI(Y) protein in the diagnosis of thyroid tumors: HMGI(Y) expression represents a potential diagnostic indicator of carcinoma

G. Chiappetta, G. Tallini, M. C. De Biasio, G. Manfioletti, F. J. Martinez-Tello, F. Pentimalli, F. De Nigris, A. Mastro, G. Botti, M. Fedele, N. Berger, M. Santoro, V. Giancotti, Alfredo Fusco

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Hyperplastic or neoplastic proliferative lesions of thyroid follicular epithelium consist of a spectrum, ranging from nodular hyperplasia to undifferentiated (anaplastic) carcinoma, and usually present as palpable thyroid nodules. Thyroid nodules are a common occurrence in the general population, but only a small proportion of them are eventually diagnosed as carcinoma. The difficulty in objectively identifying those thyroid nodules that are malignant to avoid unnecessary surgery, combined with the range and effectiveness of the available therapeutic options in those patients who do, indeed, have thyroid carcinoma, has prompted the search for tumor markers and prognostic indicators. The high mobility group I (HMGI) proteins represent a class of nuclear proteins involved in the regulation of chromatin structure and function. HMGI(Y), one of the members of this class, is expressed at high levels during embryogenesis and in malignant tumors but at generally low levels in normal adult human tissues. Previous work on a limited number of thyroid samples suggested that the detection of the HMGI(Y) proteins may provide a clinically useful diagnostic tool. To verify this assumption, we analyzed HMGI(Y) expression by a combination of immunohistochemistry and reverse transcription-PCR in 358 thyroid tissue samples that were representative of the spectrum of thyroid tumor pathology. HMGI(Y) was detectable in 18 of 19 follicular carcinomas, 92 of 96 papillary carcinomas, and 11 of 11 undifferentiated (anaplastic) carcinomas but in only 1 of 20 hyperplastic nodules, 44 of 200 follicular adenomas, and 0 of 12 normal tissue samples. The correlation between HMGI(Y) expression and a diagnosis of carcinoma was highly significant (P <0.0001). We also prospectively collected and analyzed for HMGI(Y) expression by immunohistochemistry and reverse transcription-PCR in 12 fine needle aspiration biopsies from 10 patients who subsequently underwent surgical removal of a solitary thyroid nodule. HMGI(Y) was detectable only in the four fine needle aspiration biopsies, corresponding to the thyroid nodules that were definitively diagnosed as carcinomas after surgery (two follicular carcinomas and two papillary carcinomas). The remaining eight samples (six follicular adenomas and two samples consisting of normal follicular cells) were negative. The findings of this study confirm the differential expression of HMGI(Y) in thyroid neoplasia and indicate the HMGI(Y) protein as a potential marker for thyroid carcinoma.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4193-4198
Number of pages6
JournalCancer Research
Issue number18
Publication statusPublished - Sep 15 1998

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cancer Research
  • Oncology


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