Mutant thyroid hormone receptors (TRs) isolated from distinct cancer types display distinct target gene specificities: a unique regulatory repertoire associated with two renal clear cell carcinomas

Mol Endocrinol. 2011 Aug;25(8):1311-25. doi: 10.1210/me.2010-0420. Epub 2011 May 26.


Thyroid hormone receptors (TRs) are hormone-regulated transcription factors that regulate a diverse array of biological activities, including metabolism, homeostasis, and development. TRs also serve as tumor suppressors, and aberrant TR function (via mutation, deletion, or altered expression) is associated with a spectrum of both neoplastic and endocrine diseases. A particularly high frequency of TR mutations has been reported in renal clear cell carcinoma (RCCC) and in hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). We have shown that HCC-TR mutants regulate only a fraction of the genes targeted by wild-type TRs but have gained the ability to regulate other, unique, targets. We have suggested that this altered gene recognition may contribute to the neoplastic phenotype. Here, to determine the generality of this phenomenon, we examined a distinct set of TR mutants associated with RCCC. We report that two different TR mutants, isolated from independent RCCC tumors, possess greatly expanded target gene specificities that extensively overlap one another, but only minimally overlap that of the wild-type TRs, or those of two HCC-TR mutants. Many of the genes targeted by either or both RCCC-TR mutants have been previously implicated in RCCC and include a series of metallothioneins, solute carriers, and genes involved in glycolysis and energy metabolism. We propose as a hypothesis that TR mutations from RCCC and HCC may play tissue-specific roles in carcinogenesis, and that the divergent target gene recognition patterns of TR mutants isolated from the two different types of tumors may arise from different selective pressures during development of RCCC vs. HCC.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Carcinoma, Hepatocellular / metabolism
  • Carcinoma, Renal Cell / genetics*
  • Gene Expression Profiling
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Neoplastic* / drug effects
  • Genes, Neoplasm / genetics*
  • Hep G2 Cells
  • Humans
  • Kidney Neoplasms / genetics*
  • Liver Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Mutant Proteins / isolation & purification*
  • Mutant Proteins / metabolism*
  • Receptors, Thyroid Hormone / metabolism*
  • Repressor Proteins / metabolism
  • Transcription, Genetic / drug effects
  • Transcriptional Activation / drug effects
  • Transcriptional Activation / genetics
  • Triiodothyronine / pharmacology


  • Mutant Proteins
  • Receptors, Thyroid Hormone
  • Repressor Proteins
  • Triiodothyronine