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Am J Pathol. 2003 Sep;163(3):1091-100.

Nuclear envelope irregularity is induced by RET/PTC during interphase.

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  • 1Department of Pathology, Emory University Hospital, Atlanta, Georgia, USA.


Nuclear envelope (NE) irregularity is an important diagnostic feature of cancer, and its molecular basis is not understood. One possible cause is abnormal postmitotic NE re-assembly, such that a rounded contour is never achieved before the next mitosis. Alternatively, dynamic forces could deform the NE during interphase following an otherwise normal postmitotic NE re-assembly. To distinguish these possibilities, normal human thyroid epithelial cells were microinjected with the papillary thyroid carcinoma oncogene (RET/PTC1 short isoform, known to induce NE irregularity), an attenuated version of RET/PTC1 lacking the leucine zipper dimerization domain (RET/PTC1 Deltazip), H (V-12) RAS, and labeled dextran. Cells were fixed at 6 or 18 to 24 hours, stained for lamins and the products of microinjected plasmids, and scored blindly using previously defined criteria for NE irregularity. 6.5% of non-injected thyrocytes showed NE irregularity. Neither dextran nor RAS microinjections increased NE irregularity. In contrast, RET/PTC1 microinjection induced NE irregularity in 27% of cells at 6 hours and 37% of cells at 18 to 24 hours. RET/PTC1 Deltazip induced significantly less irregularity. Since irregularity develops quickly, and since no mitoses and only rare possible postmitotic cells were scored, postmitotic NE re-assembly does not appear necessary for RET/PTC signaling to induce an irregular NE contour.

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