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Mol Cell Biol. 1992 Dec;12(12):5793-800.

Multiple mechanisms of interference between transformation and differentiation in thyroid cells.

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EMBL, Heidelberg, Germany.


Transformation of the thyroid cell line FRTL-5 results in loss or reduction of differentiation as measured by the expression of thyroglobulin and thyroperoxidase, two proteins whose genes are exclusively expressed in thyroid follicular cells. The biochemical mechanisms leading to this phenomenon were investigated in three cell lines obtained by transformation of FRTL-5 cells with Ki-ras, Ha-ras, and polyomavirus middle-T oncogenes. With the ras oncogenes, transformation leads to undetectable expression of the thyroglobulin and thyroperoxidase genes. However, the mechanisms responsible for the extinction of the differentiated phenotype seem to be different for the two ras oncogenes. In Ki-ras-transformed cells, the mRNA encoding TTF-1, a transcription factor controlling thyroglobulin and thyroperoxidase gene expression, is severely reduced. On the contrary, nearly wild-type levels of TTF-1 mRNA are detected in Ha-ras-transformed cells. Furthermore, overexpression of TTF-1 can activate transcription of the thyroglobulin promoter in Ki-ras-transformed cells, whereas it has no effect on thyroglobulin transcription in the Ha-ras-transformed line. Expression of polyoma middle-T antigen in thyroid cells leads to only a reduction of differentiation and does not severely affect either the activity or the amount of TTF-1. Another thyroid cell-specific transcription factor, TTF-2, is more sensitive to transformation, since it disappears in all three transformed lines, and probably contributes to the reduced expression of the differentiated phenotype.

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