Thyrotropin signaling confers more aggressive features with higher genomic instability on BRAF(V600E)-induced thyroid tumors in a mouse model

Thyroid. 2014 Mar;24(3):502-10. doi: 10.1089/thy.2013.0038. Epub 2014 Jan 15.


Background: The BRAF(V600E) mutation is the most common genetic alteration in papillary thyroid carcinomas (PTCs). Transgenic mice overexpressing BRAF(V600E) in their thyroids under control of the thyroglobulin promoter (Tg-BRAF2 mice) developed invasive PTCs with high penetrance. However, these mice showed elevated thyrotropin (TSH) levels, which also stimulate the proliferation of thyrocytes and tumorigenesis. The purpose of the present study was to investigate how TSH signaling cooperates with BRAF(V600E) in the process of thyroid carcinogenesis.

Methods: We crossed Tg-BRAF2 mice with TSH receptor knockout (TshR(-/-)) mice. Four genetically distinct mice groups-Braf(wt)/TshR(+/-) (group 1), Braf(wt)/TshR(-/-) (group 2), Tg-BRAF2/TshR(+/-) (group 3), and Tg-BRAF2/TshR(-/-) (group 4)--were sacrificed at 12 and 24 weeks of age. We performed histopathological analysis. Genomic instability was evaluated by immunofluorescence for p53-binding protein 1 (53BP1) and γH2AX. Invasiveness and genomic instability were also evaluated using thyroid PCCL3 cells expressing BRAF(V600E).

Results: Groups 3 and 4 developed distinct neoplasias comparable to human PTCs. Group 3 developed typically larger, more aggressive, invasive tumors compared to group 4. The frequency of 53BP1 and γH2AX foci-indicators of genomic instability--in group 3 was higher than that in group 4. TSH also enhanced invasiveness and genomic instability in PCCL3 cells with BRAF(V600E) expression.

Conclusions: These data demonstrate that the TSH signaling confers more aggressive features in BRAF(V600E)-induced thyroid tumors in mice. This might be due, in part, to accelerated genomic instability.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Carcinoma, Papillary / genetics*
  • Carcinoma, Papillary / metabolism
  • Carcinoma, Papillary / pathology
  • Genomic Instability*
  • Mice
  • Mice, Knockout
  • Mice, Transgenic
  • Mutation
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins B-raf / genetics*
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins B-raf / metabolism
  • Receptors, Thyrotropin / genetics*
  • Receptors, Thyrotropin / metabolism
  • Signal Transduction / genetics
  • Thyroid Neoplasms / genetics*
  • Thyroid Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Thyroid Neoplasms / pathology
  • Thyrotropin / metabolism*


  • Receptors, Thyrotropin
  • Thyrotropin
  • Braf protein, mouse
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins B-raf