The six major genes involved in hereditary susceptibility for pheochromocytoma (PCC)/paraganglioma (PGL) (RET, VHL, NF1, SDHB, SDHC, and SDHD) have been recently integrated into the same neuronal apoptotic pathway where mutations in any of these genes lead to cell death. In this model, prolyl hydroxylase 3 (EglN3) abrogation plays a pivotal role, but the molecular mechanisms underlying its inactivation are currently unknown. The aim of the study was to decipher specific alterations associated with the different genetic classes of PCCs/PGLs. With this purpose, 84 genetically characterized tumors were analyzed by means of transcriptional profiling. The analysis revealed a hypoxia-inducible factor (HIF)-related signature common to succinate dehydrogenase (SDH) and von Hippel-Lindau (VHL) tumors, that differentiated them from RET and neurofibromatosis type 1 cases. Both canonical HIF-1α and HIF-2α target genes were overexpressed in the SDH/VHL cluster, suggesting that a global HIF deregulation accounts for this common profile. Nevertheless, when we compared VHL tumors with SDHB cases, which often exhibit a malignant behavior, we found that HIF-1α target genes showed a predominant activation in the VHL PCCs. Expression data from 67 HIF target genes was sufficient to cluster SDHB and VHL tumors into two different groups, demonstrating different pseudo-hypoxic signatures. In addition, VHL-mutated tumors showed an unexpected overexpression of EglN3 mRNA that did not lead to significantly different EglN3 protein levels. These findings pave the way for more specific therapeutic approaches for malignant PCCs/PGLs management based on the patient's genetic alteration.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Molecular Biology