Research Papers:

Genomic binding of PAX8-PPARG fusion protein regulates cancer-related pathways and alters the immune landscape of thyroid cancer

Yanxiao Zhang, Jingcheng Yu, Vladimir Grachtchouk, Tingting Qin, Carey N. Lumeng, Maureen A. Sartor and Ronald J. Koenig _

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Oncotarget. 2017; 8:5761-5773. https://doi.org/10.18632/oncotarget.14050

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Yanxiao Zhang1,4, Jingcheng Yu2, Vladimir Grachtchouk2, Tingting Qin1, Carey N. Lumeng3, Maureen A. Sartor1, Ronald J. Koenig2

1Department of Computational Medicine and Bioinformatics, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI, 48109, USA

2Division of Metabolism, Endocrinology and Diabetes, Department of Internal Medicine, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI 48109, USA

3Department of Pediatrics and Communicable Diseases, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI 48109, USA

4Current address: Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research, La Jolla, CA 92093-0653, USA

Correspondence to:

Ronald J. Koenig, email: [email protected]

Keywords: peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor gamma, follicular thyroid cancer, pioglitazone, differentiation, gene fusion

Received: August 25, 2016     Accepted: December 13, 2016     Published: December 20, 2016


PAX8-PPARG fusion protein (PPFP) results from a t(2;3)(q13;p25) chromosomal translocation, is found in 30% of follicular thyroid carcinomas, and demonstrates oncogenic capacity in transgenic mice. A PPARG ligand, pioglitazone, is highly therapeutic in mice with PPFP thyroid cancer. However, only limited data exist to characterize the binding sites and oncogenic function of PPFP, or to explain the observed therapeutic effect of pioglitazone. Here we used our previously characterized transgenic mouse model of PPFP follicular thyroid carcinoma to identify PPFP binding sites in vivo using ChIP-seq, and to distinguish genes and pathways regulated directly or indirectly by PPFP with and without pioglitazone treatment via integration with RNA-seq data. PPFP bound to DNA regions containing the PAX8 and/or the PPARG motif, near genes involved in lipid metabolism, the cell cycle, apoptosis, and cell motility; the binding site distribution was highly concordant with our previous study in a rat PCCL3 cell line. Most strikingly, pioglitazone induced an immune cell infiltration including macrophages and T cells only in the presence of PPFP, which may be central to its therapeutic effect.

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