Downregulation of microRNAs directs the EMT and invasive potential of anaplastic thyroid carcinomas

Oncogene. 2010 Jul 22;29(29):4237-44. doi: 10.1038/onc.2010.169. Epub 2010 May 24.


Anaplastic thyroid carcinomas (ATCs) arise from epithelial thyroid cells by mesenchymal de-/transdifferentiation and rapidly invade the adjacent tissue. Specific microRNA signatures were suggested to distinguish ATCs from normal thyroid tissue and other thyroid carcinomas of follicular origin. Whether distinct microRNA patterns correlate with de-/transdifferentiation and invasion of ATCs remained elusive. We identified two significantly decreased microRNA families that unambiguously distinguish ATCs from papillary and follicular thyroid carcinomas: miR-200 and miR-30. Expression of these microRNAs in mesenchymal ATC-derived cells reduced their invasive potential and induced mesenchymal-epithelial transition (MET) by regulating the expression of MET marker proteins. Supporting the role of transforming growth factor (TGF)beta signaling in modulating MET/epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT), expression of SMAD2 and TGFBR1, upregulated in most primary ATCs, was controlled by members of the miR-30 and/or miR-200 families in ATC-derived cells. Inhibition of TGFbeta receptor 1 (TGFBR1) in these cells induced MET and reduction of prometastatic miR-21, but caused an increase of the miR-200 family. These findings identify altered microRNA signatures as potent markers for ATCs that promote de-/transdifferentiation (EMT) and invasion of these neoplasias. Hence, TGFBR1 inhibition could have a significant potential for the treatment of ATCs and possibly other invasive tumors.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Carcinoma / pathology*
  • Down-Regulation
  • Epithelial Cells / pathology*
  • Homeodomain Proteins / physiology
  • Humans
  • Mesoderm / pathology*
  • MicroRNAs / antagonists & inhibitors
  • MicroRNAs / physiology*
  • Neoplasm Invasiveness
  • Protein-Serine-Threonine Kinases / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Protein-Serine-Threonine Kinases / physiology
  • Receptor, Transforming Growth Factor-beta Type I
  • Receptors, Transforming Growth Factor beta / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Receptors, Transforming Growth Factor beta / physiology
  • Repressor Proteins / physiology
  • Smad2 Protein / physiology
  • Thyroid Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Transforming Growth Factor beta / physiology
  • Zinc Finger E-box Binding Homeobox 2


  • Homeodomain Proteins
  • MIRN200 microRNA, human
  • MIRN30 microRNA, human
  • MicroRNAs
  • Receptors, Transforming Growth Factor beta
  • Repressor Proteins
  • SMAD2 protein, human
  • Smad2 Protein
  • Transforming Growth Factor beta
  • ZEB2 protein, human
  • Zinc Finger E-box Binding Homeobox 2
  • Protein-Serine-Threonine Kinases
  • Receptor, Transforming Growth Factor-beta Type I
  • TGFBR1 protein, human