Gene expression profiling of rat pheochromocytoma

Ann N Y Acad Sci. 2006 Aug;1073:290-9. doi: 10.1196/annals.1353.033.


Sporadic and syndrome-associated human pheochromocytomas exhibit a spectrum of common and distinctive phenotypic markers. Animal models may contribute to understanding of common denominators leading to development and progression of pheochromocytoma, and to mechanisms that underlie distinctive phenotypes. Rat pheochromocytomas are common, in contrast to their human counterparts, and their frequency is increased by a variety of genotoxic or nongenotoxic agents. Toxicological studies of rats are therefore a potentially rich source of information on pheochromocytoma biology. To compare the molecular profiles of rat and human pheochromocytomas and to identify pathways potentially involved in pathogenesis of rat pheochromocytomas, we conducted a gene expression profiling study comparing 31 pheochromocytomas obtained from the National Toxicology Program to normal adult rat adrenal medulla. The microarray chips were generated from 31,769-oligomer set representing over 27,200 unique Mouse Ensembl genes. The analysis showed over 1,900 genes that were up- or downregulated in the tumors. More than half of the former are involved in protein synthesis and signal transduction, including oncogenes of the RAS family and several heat shock proteins and chaperones. Downregulated genes included receptors and tumor-suppressor genes, including NF2 and Dmbt1. Specific genes related to neuroendocrine function were either upregulated or downregulated in subsets of tumors. Cross-comparison with a human pheochromocytoma database showed greater than 60% correlation. Results of this study reveal both generic and specific parallels between rat and human pheochromocytomas.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Intramural

MeSH terms

  • Adrenal Gland Neoplasms / genetics*
  • Animals
  • Gene Expression Profiling*
  • Humans
  • Pheochromocytoma / genetics*
  • Rats