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Molecular cancer therapeutics

Tumor-suppressor role of Notch3 in medullary thyroid carcinoma revealed by genetic and pharmacological induction.


PMID 25512616

Abstract

Notch1-3 are transmembrane receptors that appear to be absent in medullary thyroid cancer (MTC). Previous research has shown that induction of Notch1 has a tumor-suppressor effect in MTC cell lines, but little is known about the biologic consequences of Notch3 activation for the progression of the disease. We elucidate the role of Notch3 in MTC by genetic (doxycycline-inducible Notch3 intracellular domain) and pharmacologic [AB3, novel histone deacetylase (HDAC) inhibitor] approaches. We find that overexpression of Notch3 leads to the dose-dependent reduction of neuroendocrine tumor markers. In addition, Notch3 activity is required to suppress MTC cell proliferation, and the extent of growth repression depends on the amount of Notch3 protein expressed. Moreover, activation of Notch3 induces apoptosis. The translational significance of this finding is highlighted by our observation that MTC tumors lack active Notch3 protein and reinstitution of this isoform could be a therapeutic strategy to treat patients with MTC. We demonstrate, for the first time, that overexpression of Notch3 in MTC cells can alter malignant neuroendocrine phenotype in both in vitro and in vivo models. In addition, our study provides a strong rationale for using Notch3 as a therapeutic target to provide novel pharmacologic treatment options for MTC.