Functioning (FCA) and silent corticotroph (SCA) pituitary adenomas act differently from a clinical perspective, despite both subtypes showing positive TBX19 (TPIT) and/or adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH) staining by immunohistochemistry. They are challenging to treat, the former due to functional ACTH production and consequently hypercortisolemia, and the latter due to invasive and recurrent behavior. Moreover, the molecular mechanisms behind their distinct behavior are not clear. We investigated global transcriptome and proteome changes in order to identify signaling pathways that can explain FCA and SCA differences (e.g., hormone production vs. aggressive growth). In the transcriptomic study, cluster analyses of differentially expressed genes revealed two distinct groups in accordance with clinical and histological classification. However, in the proteomic study, a greater degree of heterogeneity within the SCA group was found. Genes and proteins related to protein synthesis and vesicular transport were expressed by both adenoma groups, although different types and a distinct pattern of collagen/extracellular matrix proteins were presented by each group. Moreover, several genes related to endoplasmic reticulum protein processing were overexpressed in the FCA group. Together, our findings shed light on the different repertoires of activated signaling pathways in corticotroph adenomas, namely, the increased protein processing capacity of FCA and a specific pattern of adhesion molecules that may play a role in the aggressiveness of SCA.
Keywords: RNA sequencing; cell adhesion; endoplasmic reticulum protein folding; proteomics.