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J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2002 Jul;87(7):3433-40.

Aberrant localization of beta-catenin correlates with overexpression of its target gene in human papillary thyroid cancer.

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  • 1Department of Molecular Medicine, Atomic Bomb Disease Institute, Nagasaki University School of Medicine, 1 -12-4 Sakamoto, Nagasaki 852-8523, Japan.


Alterations of the Wnt/beta-catenin signaling pathway are known to occur in mutations of the component genes such as APC, Axin, and beta-catenin, and play a pathogenetic role in tumorigenesis. Activated Wnt signaling stabilizes beta-catenin, which associates with T cell factor, resulting in transactivation of the downstream target genes including c-myc and cyclin D1. To investigate the involvement of Wnt/beta-catenin signaling pathway in thyroid tumorigenesis, we analyzed its activation and localization in 5 human thyroid cancer cell lines and 132 thyroid tumor tissue samples. Dislocalization of beta-catenin was observed in all cell lines. Constitutive activation of T cell factor in two of four thyroid cancer cell lines was observed using reporter gene assay. Furthermore, high expression levels of c-Myc and cyclin D1 were observed in cell lines that showed cytoplasmic or nuclear accumulation of beta-catenin. In 132 paraffin-embedded thyroid carcinoma tissue samples, cytoplasmic beta-catenin was immunohistochemically observed in 52 out of 78 (67%) papillary thyroid cancers, but only in 3 of 34 (9%) follicular adenomas and 5 of 20 (25%) follicular cancers. Cytoplasmic localization of beta-catenin significantly correlated with overexpression of cyclin D1 in papillary carcinomas. Our results suggest that aberrant activation of Wnt/beta-catenin signaling is strongly involved in thyroid tumorigenesis.

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