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Oncogene. 2009 Nov 26;28(47):4162-74. doi: 10.1038/onc.2009.265. Epub 2009 Sep 14.

Thyroid hormone receptor mutants implicated in human hepatocellular carcinoma display an altered target gene repertoire.

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Department of Microbiology, College of Biological Sciences, University of California at Davis, Davis, CA 95616, USA.


Thyroid hormone receptors (TRs) are hormone-regulated transcription factors that control multiple aspects of normal physiology and development. Mutations in TRs have been identified at high frequency in certain cancers, including human hepatocellular carcinomas (HCCs). The majority of HCC-TR mutants bear lesions within their DNA recognition domains, and we have hypothesized that these lesions change the mutant receptors' target gene repertoire in a way crucial to their function as oncoproteins. Using stable cell transformants and expression array analysis, we determined that mutant TRs isolated from two different HCCs do, as hypothesized, display a target gene repertoire distinct from that of their normal TR progenitors. Only a subset of genes regulated by wild-type TRs was regulated by the corresponding HCC-TR mutants. More surprisingly, the HCC-TR mutants also gained the ability to regulate additional target genes not recognized by the wild-type receptors, and were not simply restricted to repression, but could also activate a subset of their target genes. We conclude that the TR mutants isolated from HCC have sustained multiple alterations from their normal progenitors that include not only changes in their transcriptional outputs, but also changes in the genes they target; both are likely to contribute to neoplasia.

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