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Prognostic significance of DNMT3A alterations in Middle Eastern papillary thyroid carcinoma

      Highlights

      • Papillary thyroid carcinoma (PTC) is the second most common cancer affecting Saudi women after breast cancer.
      • Investigated the frequency of DNA methyltransferase 3A (DNMT3A) alterations in a large cohort of >1000 PTC cases.
      • Low DNMT3A expression was significantly associated with the DNMT3A mutation.
      • DNMT3A alterations (mutation and/or loss of expression) were associated with aggressive clinical parameters and a poor outcome.
      • Demethylation significantly potentiated the TRAIL-mediated apoptosis in PTC cell lines.

      Abstract

      Background

      Thyroid cancer is the second most common cancer affecting Saudi women after breast cancer, with papillary thyroid carcinoma (PTC) accounting for 80–90% of thyroid cancers. DNA methyltransferases affect DNA methylation, and it is thought that they play an important role in the malignant transformation of various cancers.

      Methods

      We sought to evaluate the frequency of DNA methyltransferase 3A (DNMT3A) alterations in a large cohort of >1000 PTC cases using exome sequencing, capture sequencing, immunohistochemistry and methylation-specific polymerase chain reaction. We also performed in vitro analysis to investigate the role of DNMT3A methylation in PTC cell lines.

      Results

      DNMT3A pathogenic mutations were noted in 1.2% (12/1013) of PTC cases. Reduced/loss of DNMT3A expression was seen in 59.8% (579/968) of PTC cases and was significantly associated with the DNMT3A mutation (p = 0.0120). DNMT3A alterations (mutation and/or loss of expression) were associated with aggressive clinical parameters and a poor outcome. The promoter region of the DNMT3A gene was methylated in 57.1% of PTC cases tested and was significantly associated with reduced DNMT3A protein expression (p = 0.0253). Treatment of the methylated PTC cell line with 5-aza-2′-deoxycytidine resulted in demethylation of the DNMT3A gene, leading to restoration of its expression. Demethylation significantly potentiated the TRAIL-mediated apoptosis in PTC cells. Interestingly, silencing of DNMT3A using siRNA suppressed TRAIL-mediated apoptosis.

      Conclusion

      These findings suggest that DNMT3A alterations play an important role in PTC pathogenesis and demethylation agents can be used to restore the function of DNMT3A in a subset of patients with PTC.

      Keywords

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