The loss of the p53 activator HIPK2 is responsible for galectin-3 overexpression in well differentiated thyroid carcinomas

Luca Lavra, Cinzia Rinaldo, Alessandra Ulivieri, Emidio Luciani, Paolo Fidanza, Laura Giacomelli, Carlo Bellotti, Alberto Ricci, Maria Trovato, Silvia Soddu, Armando Bartolazzi, Salvatore Sciacchitano

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Background: Galectin-3 (Gal-3) is an anti-apoptotic molecule involved in thyroid cells transformation. It is specifically overexpressed in thyroid tumour cells and is currently used as a preoperative diagnostic marker of thyroid malignancy. Gal-3 expression is downregulated by wt-p53 at the transcriptional level. In well-differentiated thyroid carcinomas (WDTCs) there is an unexplained paradoxical concomitant expression of Gal-3 and wt-p53. HIPK2 is a co-regulator of different transcription factors, and modulates basic cellular processes mainly through the activation of wt-p53. Since we demonstrated that HIPK2 is involved in p53-mediated Gal-3 downregulation, we asked whether HIPK2 deficiency might be responsible for such paradoxical Gal-3 overexpression in WDTC. Methodology/Principal Findings: We analyzed HIPK2 protein and mRNA levels, as well as loss of heterozygosity (LOH) at the HIPK2 locus (7q32-34), in thyroid tissue samples. HIPK2 protein levels were high in all follicular hyperplasias (FHs) analyzed. Conversely, HIPK2 was undetectable in 91.7% of papillary thyroid carcinomas (PTCs) and in 60.0% of follicular thyroid carcinomas (FTCs). HIPK2 mRNA levels were upregulated in FH compared to normal thyroid tissue (NTT), while PTC showed mean HIPK2 mRNA levels lower than FH and, in 61.5% of cases, also lower than NTT. We found LOH at HIPK-2 gene locus in 37.5% of PTCs, 14.3% of FTCs and 18.2% of follicular adenomas. To causally link these data with Gal-3 upregulation, we performed in vitro experiments, using the PTC-derived K1 cells, in which HIPK2 expression was manipulated by RNA interference (RNAi) or plasmid-mediated overexpression. HIPK2 RNAi was associated with Gal-3 upregulation, while HIPK2 overexpression with Gal-3 downregulation. Conclusions/Significance: Our results indicate that HIPK2 expression and function are impaired in WDTCs, in particular in PTCs, and that this event explains Gal-3 overexpression typically observed in these types of tumours. Therefore, HIPK2 can be considered as a new tumour suppressor gene for thyroid cancers.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere20665
JournalPLoS One
Volume6
Issue number6
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2011

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Medicine(all)

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