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H4(D10S170), a gene frequently rearranged with RET in papillary thyroid carcinomas: functional characterization


Human thyroid papillary carcinomas are characterized by rearrangements of the RET protooncogene with a number of heterologous genes, which generate the RET/papillary thyroid carcinoma (PTC) oncogenes. One of the most frequent variants of these recombination events is the fusion of the intracellular kinase-encoding domain of RET to the first 101 amino acids of a gene named H4(D10S170). We have characterized the H4(D10S170) gene product, showing that it is a ubiquitously expressed 55 KDa nuclear and cytosolic protein that is phosphorylated following serum stimulation. This phosphorylation was found to depend on mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) Erk1/2 activity and to be associated to the relocation of H4(D10S170) from the nucleus to the cytosol. Overexpression of the H4(D10S170) gene was able to induce apoptosis of thyroid follicular epithelial cells; conversely a carboxy-terminal truncated H4(D10S170) mutant H4(1–101), corresponding to the portion included in the RET/PTC1 oncoprotein, behaved as dominant negative on the proapoptotic function and nuclear localization of H4(D10S170). Furthermore, conditional expression of the H4(D10S170)-dominant negative truncated mutant protected cells from stress-induced apoptosis. The substitution of serine 244 with alanine abrogated the apoptotic function of H4(D10S170). These data suggest that loss of the H4(D10S170) gene function might have a role in thyroid carcinogenesis by impairing apoptosis.

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We are grateful to Massimo Santoro for helpful discussion and encouragements. We thank Corrado Garbi for his support in microscopy studies and Claudia Consales for her help in antibody purification. This study was supported by grants from the Associazione Italiana per la Ricerca sul Cancro (AIRC) and MIUR, Piano Biomedicina, Progetto 12, Cluster C04.

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Correspondence to Michele Grieco.

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Celetti, A., Cerrato, A., Merolla, F. et al. H4(D10S170), a gene frequently rearranged with RET in papillary thyroid carcinomas: functional characterization. Oncogene 23, 109–121 (2004).

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