Impact of the Tumor Microenvironment on the Gene Expression Profile in Papillary Thyroid Cancer

Pathobiology. 2020;87(2):143-154. doi: 10.1159/000507223. Epub 2020 Apr 22.


Transcriptome of papillary thyroid cancer (PTC) is well characterized and correlates with some prognostic and genotypic factors, but data addressing the interaction between PTC and tumor microenvironment (TME) are scarce. Therefore, in the present study, we aimed to assess the impact of TME on gene expression profile in PTC. We evaluated the gene expression profile in PTC and normal thyroid cells isolated by laser capture microdissection and in whole tissue slides corresponding to the entire tumor. We included 26 microdissected samples for gene expression analysis (HG-U133 PLUS 2.0, Affymetrix, currently Thermo Fisher Scientific USA): 15 PTC samples, 11 samples of normal thyrocytes, and 30 whole slides (15 PTC and 15 normal thyroid). Transcripts were divided into three groups: differentially expressed both in microdissected and whole slides, transcripts differently expressed in microdissected samples and not changed in whole slides, and transcripts differentially expressed in whole slides and not changed in microdissected samples. Eleven genes were selected for validation in an independent set of samples; among them, four genes differentiated only microdissected PTC and normal cells. Two genes (PTCSC and CTGF) were confirmed. One gene (FOS) was not confirmed by the validation, whereas EGR1 was also significant in whole slide analysis. The other seven genes (TFF3, FN1, MPPED2, MET, KCNJ2, TACSTD2, and GALE) showed differentiated expression in microdissected thyrocytes and in whole tumor slides. Most of identified genes were related to the tumor-microenvironment interaction and confirmed the crosstalk between TME and cancer cells.

Keywords: Gene expression profile; Papillary thyroid cancer; Tumor microenvironment; Tumor stroma.

MeSH terms

  • Antigens, Neoplasm
  • Frozen Sections
  • Gene Expression Profiling
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Neoplastic*
  • Humans
  • Thyroid Cancer, Papillary / genetics*
  • Transcriptome*
  • Tumor Microenvironment / genetics*


  • Antigens, Neoplasm