A variant located on 14q13.3 nearest to thyroid transcription factor-1 (TTF1) predisposes individuals to thyroid cancer, but whether this variant is related to the RET/PTC rearrangement associated with human papillary thyroid carcinomas (PTCs) is unknown. The aims of this study were to investigate the effects of RET/PTC1 on the expression of thyroid-specific genes in thyrocytes and their relationship with malignant transformation of the thyrocytes. In the absence or presence of TSH, an extracellular signal-regulated kinase was phosphorylated in FRTL5 cells that stably expressed RET/PTC1, and these cells grew independently of TSH. FRTL (RET/PTC1) cells produced 566% more thyroglobulin mRNA and 474% more Na+/I- symporter mRNA than did the control FRTL (pcDNA) cells. FRTL (RET/PTC1) cells expressed 468% more Ttf1 mRNA than did FRTL (pcDNA) cells, but these two cell types did not differ significantly with respect to Pax8 or Ttf2 mRNA levels. When FRTL (RET/PTC1) cells and FRTL (pcDNA), cells were injected into each of nine nude mice, each mouse developed a single tumor at the site of FRTL (RET/PTC1) cell injection; in contrast, tumor formation never occurred at sites of FRTL (cDNA) cells injection. Tumors resulting from FRTL (RET/PTC1) cells retained (125)I-uptake activity; moreover, the cells invaded into surrounding skeletal muscle. When overexpression of Ttf1 in FRTL (RET/PTC1) cells was silenced, the cells completely lost their tumorigenic potential. Exogenous TTF1 cDNA enhanced the tumorigenicity of BHP18-21v cells, human PTC cells that express RET/PTC1, in nude mice. These results indicated that concurrent overexpression of RET/PTC1 and TTF1 confers tumorigenicity to FRTL5 and BHP18-21v cells in nude mice.
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