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Endocr Relat Cancer. 2011 Aug 30;18(5):555-64. doi: 10.1530/ERC-11-0138. Print 2011 Oct.

The role of FOXO3 in DNA damage response in thyrocytes.

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Clinic of Endocrinology and Nephrology, Department of Internal Medicine, Neurology and Dermatology, University of Leipzig, Liebigstrabe, Germany.


Members of the forkhead box-O (FOXO) transcription factors family play an important role in stress defence. FOXO3 deregulation has recently been identified as a hallmark of thyroid carcinogenesis. In this study, we explore the role of FOXO3 in defence of oxidative stress in normal thyrocytes. Stable rat thyroid cell lines were generated expressing either the human wild-type FOXO3, a constitutively activating FOXO3 mutant, or the empty control vector. Cell clones were characterised for proliferation, function and morphology. Hydrogen peroxide and UV irradiation were used to induce oxidative stress. Changes in FOXO3 activity, induction of cell cycle arrest or apoptosis and kinetics of DNA damage repair were analysed. Upregulation of FOXO3 in thyrocytes resulted in decreased proliferation and changes in morphology, but did not affect differentiation. Hydrogen peroxide stimulated the expression of the FOXO3 target genes growth arrest and DNA damage-inducible protein 45 α (Gadd45α) and Bcl-2 interacting mediator of cell death (BIM) and induced programmed cell death in cells with overexpression of the human wild-type FOXO3. In contrast, UV irradiation resulted in a distinct cellular response with activation of FOXO3-c-Jun-N-terminal kinase-Gadd45α signalling and induction of cell cycle arrest at the G(2)-M-checkpoint. This was accompanied by FOXO3-induced DNA damage repair as evidenced by lower DNA breaks over time in a comet assay in FOXO3 cell clones compared with control cells. In conclusion, FOXO3 is a pivotal relay in the coordination of the cellular response to genotoxic stress in the thyroid. Depending on the stimulus, FOXO3 induces either cell cycle arrest or apoptosis. Conversely, FOXO3 inactivation in thyroid cancers is consistent with genomic instability and loss of cell cycle control.

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