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J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2007 Jun;92(6):2387-90. Epub 2007 Apr 10.

High prevalence and mutual exclusivity of genetic alterations in the phosphatidylinositol-3-kinase/akt pathway in thyroid tumors.

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Division of Endocrinology and Metabolism, The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, MD 21287, USA.



Genetic alterations in the phosphatidylinositol-3-kinase (PI3K)/Akt pathway and their role in thyroid tumor pathogenesis in Chinese people remain undefined.


The objective of the study was to examine the major genetic alterations and their relationship in the PI3K/Akt pathway in differentiated thyroid tumors in a Chinese cohort.


We used real-time quantitative PCR for the analysis of PIK3CA copy gain and direct DNA sequencing for the detection of PIK3CA, RAS, and PTEN mutations on genomic DNA isolated from 234 thyroid tumors, including 31 follicular thyroid cancer (FTC), 141 papillary thyroid cancer (PTC), and 62 follicular thyroid adenoma (FTA).


We found PIK3CA copy gain (defined as four or more copies) in nine of 31 FTC (29%), 20 of 141 PTC (14%), and five of 62 FTA (8%); PIK3CA gene mutations in four of 31 FTC (13%), one of 141 PTC (1%), and none of 62 FTA (0%); Ras mutations in three of 31 FTC (10%) and none of the 141 PTC and 62 FTA; and PTEN mutations in two of 31 FTC (6%) and none of 62 FTA (0%). Collectively, nine of 31 FTC (29%) vs. none of 62 FTA (0%) (P < 0.01) harbored one of the mutations, and when PIK3CA copy gain was included, 16 of 31 FTC (52%) vs. five of 62 FTA (8%) (P < 0.01) harbored any genetic alteration in the PI3K/Akt pathway. Mutual exclusivity was seen among all these PI3K/Akt pathway-related genetic alterations in all thyroid tumors except for two cases that harbored two genetic alterations.


These data from a Chinese cohort provide further genetic evidence suggesting that dysregulated PI3K/Akt pathway plays a significant role in the pathogenesis of thyroid tumors, particularly FTC.

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