RET/PTC1-driven neoplastic transformation and proinvasive phenotype of human thyrocytes involve met induction and β-catenin nuclear translocation

Giuliana Cassinelli, Enrica Favini, Debora Degl'Innocenti, Alessandro Salvi, Giuseppina De Petro, Marco A. Pierotti, Franco Zunino, Maria Grazia Borrello, Cinzia Lanzi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Activation of the RET gene by chromosomal rearrangements generating RET/PTC oncogenes is a frequent, early, and causative event in papillary thyroid carcinoma (PTC). We have previously shown that, in human primary thyrocytes, RET/PTC1 induces a transcriptional program including the MET proto-oncogene. In PTCs, β-catenin is frequently mislocated to the cytoplasm nucleus. We investigated the interplay between Ret/ptc1 signaling and Met in regulating the proinvasive phenotype and β-catenin localization in cellular models of human PTC. Here, we show that Met protein is expressed and is constitutively active in human thyrocytes exogenously expressing RET/PTC1 as well as a mutant (Y451F) devoid of the main Ret/ptc1 multidocking site. Both in transformed thyrocytes and in the human PTC cell line TPC-1, Ret/ptc1-Y451-dependent signaling and Met cooperated to promote a proinvasive phenotype. Accordingly, gene/functional silencing of either RET/PTC1 or MET abrogated early branching morphogenesis in TPC-1 cells. The same effect was obtained by blocking the common downstream effector Akt. Y451 of Ret/ptc1 was required to promote proliferation and nuclear translocation of β-catenin, suggesting that these oncogene-driven effects are Met-independent. Pharmacologic inhibition of Ret/ptc1 and Met tyrosine kinases by the multitarget small molecule RPI-1 blocked cell proliferation and invasive ability and dislocated β-catenin from the nucleus. Altogether, these results support that Ret/ptc1 cross talks with Met at transcriptional and signaling levels and promotes β-catenin transcriptional activity to drive thyrocyte neoplastic transformation. Such molecular network, promoting disease initiation and acquisition of a proinvasive phenotype, highlights new options to design multitarget therapeutic strategies for PTCs.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)10-21
Number of pages12
JournalNeoplasia (United States)
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2009

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cancer Research


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