Adrenocortical Carcinoma - Molecular Biology

Overview

Literature Analysis

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Tag cloud generated 08 August, 2015 using data from PubMed, MeSH and CancerIndex

Mutated Genes and Abnormal Protein Expression (47)

How to use this data tableClicking on the Gene or Topic will take you to a separate more detailed page. Sort this list by clicking on a column heading e.g. 'Gene' or 'Topic'.

GeneLocationAliasesNotesTopicPapers
RET 10q11.2 PTC, MTC1, HSCR1, MEN2A, MEN2B, RET51, CDHF12, CDHR16, RET-ELE1 GWS
-RET and Adrenocortical Cancer
277
SDHB 1p36.1-p35 IP, SDH, CWS2, PGL4, SDH1, SDH2, SDHIP -SDHB and Adrenocortical Cancer
175
SDHD 11q23 PGL, CBT1, CWS3, PGL1, QPs3, SDH4, cybS, CII-4 -SDHD and Adrenocortical Cancer
160
VHL 3p25.3 RCA1, VHL1, pVHL, HRCA1 -VHL and Adrenocortical Cancer
93
SDHC 1q23.3 CYBL, PGL3, QPS1, SDH3, CYB560 -SDHC and Adrenocortical Cancer
86
MEN1 11q13 MEAI, SCG2 GWS
-MEN1 and Adrenocortical Cancer
84
TP53 17p13.1 P53, BCC7, LFS1, TRP53 GWS
-TP53 and Adrenocortical Carcinoma
77
NF1 17q11.2 WSS, NFNS, VRNF -NF1 and Adrenocortical Cancer
76
ACCS 11p11 ACS, PHACS -ACCS and Adrenocortical Cancer
45
CAMP 3p21.3 LL37, CAP18, CRAMP, HSD26, CAP-18, FALL39, FALL-39 -CAMP and Adrenocortical Cancer
41
PGLS 19p13.2 6PGL -PGLS and Adrenocortical Cancer
40
TMEM127 2q11.2 -TMEM127 and Adrenocortical Cancer
38
SDHA 5p15 FP, PGL5, SDH1, SDH2, SDHF, CMD1GG -SDHA and Adrenocortical Cancer
30
CYP11B2 8q21-q22 CPN2, ALDOS, CYP11B, CYP11BL, CYPXIB2, P450C18, P-450C18, P450aldo -CYP11B2 and Adrenocortical Cancer
29
SDHAF2 11q12.2 PGL2, SDH5, C11orf79 -SDHAF2 and Adrenocortical Cancer
27
CYP11B1 8q21 FHI, CPN1, CYP11B, P450C11 -CYP11B1 and Adrenocortical Cancer
27
CTNNB1 3p21 CTNNB, MRD19, armadillo GWS
-CTNNB1 and Adrenocortical Carcinoma
25
KCNJ5 11q24 CIR, GIRK4, KATP1, LQT13, KIR3.4 -KCNJ5 and Adrenocortical Cancer
20
IGF2 11p15.5 IGF-II, PP9974, C11orf43 -IGF2 Expression in Adrenocortical Carcinoma
19
PDE11A 2q31.2 PPNAD2 -PDE11A and Adrenocortical Cancer
11
NR5A1 9q33 ELP, SF1, FTZ1, POF7, SF-1, AD4BP, FTZF1, SPGF8, SRXY3 -NR5A1 and Adrenocortical Cancer
10
EPAS1 2p21-p16 HLF, MOP2, ECYT4, HIF2A, PASD2, bHLHe73 -EPAS1 and Adrenocortical Cancer
8
CYP11A1 15q23-q24 CYP11A, CYPXIA1, P450SCC -CYP11A1 and Adrenocortical Cancer
7
EGLN1 1q42.1 HPH2, PHD2, SM20, ECYT3, HALAH, HPH-2, HIFPH2, ZMYND6, C1orf12, HIF-PH2 -EGLN1 and Adrenocortical Cancer
6
GDNF 5p13.1-p12 ATF1, ATF2, HSCR3, HFB1-GDNF -GDNF and Adrenocortical Cancer
6
MAX 14q23 bHLHd4 -MAX and Adrenocortical Cancer
6
EGLN3 14q13.1 PHD3, HIFPH3, HIFP4H3 -EGLN3 and Adrenocortical Cancer
6
NR3C2 4q31.1 MR, MCR, MLR, NR3C2VIT -NR3C2 and Adrenocortical Cancer
5
GATA6 18q11.1-q11.2 -GATA6 and Adrenocortical Cancer
5
RBP3 10q11.2 IRBP, RBPI, RP66, D10S64, D10S65, D10S66 -RBP3 and Adrenocortical Cancer
5
CDKN2A 9p21 ARF, MLM, P14, P16, P19, CMM2, INK4, MTS1, TP16, CDK4I, CDKN2, INK4A, MTS-1, P14ARF, P19ARF, P16INK4, P16INK4A, P16-INK4A GWS
-CDKN2A and Adrenocortical Carcinoma
5
RB1 13q14.2 RB, pRb, OSRC, pp110, p105-Rb, PPP1R130 GWS
-RB1 and Adrenocortical Carcinoma
5
NR0B1 Xp21.3 AHC, AHX, DSS, GTD, HHG, AHCH, DAX1, DAX-1, NROB1, SRXY2 -NR0B1 and Adrenocortical Cancer
4
HSD3B2 1p13.1 HSDB, HSD3B, SDR11E2 -HSD3B2 and Adrenocortical Cancer
4
AVPR1A 12q14-q15 V1aR, AVPR1, AVPR V1a -AVPR1A and Adrenocortical Cancer
3
NR4A2 2q22-q23 NOT, RNR1, HZF-3, NURR1, TINUR -NR4A2 and Adrenocortical Cancer
3
KIF1B 1p36.2 KLP, CMT2, CMT2A, CMT2A1, HMSNII, NBLST1 -KIF1B and Adrenocortical Cancer
3
AVPR1B 1q32 AVPR3 -AVPR1B and Adrenocortical Cancer
3
MC2R 18p11.2 ACTHR -MC2R and Adrenocortical Cancer
3
TERT 5p15.33 TP2, TRT, CMM9, EST2, TCS1, hTRT, DKCA2, DKCB4, hEST2, PFBMFT1 GWS
-TERT and Adrenocortical Carcinoma
2
WISP2 20q13.12 CCN5, CT58, CTGF-L -WISP2 and Adrenocortical Cancer
2
LHCGR 2p21 HHG, LHR, LCGR, LGR2, ULG5, LHRHR, LSH-R, LH/CGR, LH/CG-R -LHCGR and Adrenocortical Cancer
2
KCNQ1OT1 11p15 LIT1, KvDMR1, KCNQ10T1, KCNQ1-AS2, KvLQT1-AS, NCRNA00012 -KCNQ1OT1 and Adrenocortical Cancer
2
DAXX 6p21.3 DAP6, EAP1, BING2 GWS
-DAXX and Adrenorortical Carcinoma
2
AGTR2 Xq22-q23 AT2, ATGR2, MRX88 -AGTR2 and Adrenocortical Cancer
2
MED12 Xq13 OKS, FGS1, HOPA, OPA1, OHDOX, ARC240, CAGH45, MED12S, TNRC11, TRAP230 GWS
-MED12 and Adrenocortical Carcinoma
1
ZNRF3 22q12.1 RNF203, BK747E2.3 GWS
-ZNRF3 and Adrenocortical Cancer
1

Note: list is not exhaustive. Number of papers are based on searches of PubMed (click on topic title for arbitrary criteria used).

GWS - Genome/Exome Wide Study, large-scale/significant (selected):
Assié G et al. Integrated genomic characterization of adrenocortical carcinoma. Nat Genet. 2014; 46(6):607-12

Latest Publications

Zhou J, Shaikh LH, Neogi SG, et al.
DACH1, a zona glomerulosa selective gene in the human adrenal, activates transforming growth factor-β signaling and suppresses aldosterone secretion.
Hypertension. 2015; 65(5):1103-10 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
Common somatic mutations in CACNAID and ATP1A1 may define a subgroup of smaller, zona glomerulosa (ZG)-like aldosterone-producing adenomas. We have therefore sought signature ZG genes, which may provide insight into the frequency and pathogenesis of ZG-like aldosterone-producing adenomas. Twenty-one pairs of zona fasciculata and ZG and 14 paired aldosterone-producing adenomas from 14 patients with Conn's syndrome and 7 patients with pheochromocytoma were assayed by the Affymetrix Human Genome U133 Plus 2.0 Array. Validation by quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction was performed on genes >10-fold upregulated in ZG (compared with zona fasciculata) and >10-fold upregulated in aldosterone-producing adenomas (compared with ZG). DACH1, a gene associated with tumor progression, was further analyzed. The role of DACH1 on steroidogenesis, transforming growth factor-β, and Wnt signaling activity was assessed in the human adrenocortical cell line, H295R. Immunohistochemistry confirmed selective expression of DACH1 in human ZG. Silencing of DACH1 in H295R cells increased CYP11B2 mRNA levels and aldosterone production, whereas overexpression of DACH1 decreased aldosterone production. Overexpression of DACH1 in H295R cells activated the transforming growth factor-β and canonical Wnt signaling pathways but inhibited the noncanonical Wnt signaling pathway. Stimulation of primary human adrenal cells with angiotensin II decreased DACH1 mRNA expression. Interestingly, there was little overlap between our top ZG genes and those in rodent ZG. In conclusion, (1) the transcriptome profile of human ZG differs from rodent ZG, (2) DACH1 inhibits aldosterone secretion in human adrenals, and (3) transforming growth factor-β signaling pathway is activated in DACH1 overexpressed cells and may mediate inhibition of aldosterone secretion in human adrenals.

Ip JC, Pang TC, Glover AR, et al.
Immunohistochemical validation of overexpressed genes identified by global expression microarrays in adrenocortical carcinoma reveals potential predictive and prognostic biomarkers.
Oncologist. 2015; 20(3):247-56 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 01/03/2016 Related Publications
BACKGROUND: Adrenocortical carcinoma (ACC) is a rare malignancy with a poor prognosis. The aim of this study was to identify novel protein signatures that would predict clinical outcomes in a large cohort of patients with ACC based on data from previous gene expression microarray studies.
MATERIALS AND METHODS: A tissue microarray was generated from the paraffin tissue blocks of 61 patients with clinical outcomes data. Selected protein biomarkers based on previous gene expression microarray profiling studies were selected, and immunohistochemistry staining was performed. Staining patterns were correlated with clinical outcomes, and a multivariate analysis was undertaken to identify potential biomarkers of prognosis.
RESULTS: Median overall survival was 45 months, with a 5-year overall survival rate of 44%. Median disease-free survival was 58 months, with a 5-year disease-free survival rate of 44%. The proliferation marker Ki-67 and DNA topoisomerase TOP2A were associated with significantly poorer overall and disease-free survival. The results also showed strong correlation between the transcriptional repressor EZH2 and TOP2A expression, suggesting a novel role for EZH2 as an additional marker of prognosis. In contrast, increased expression of the BARD1 protein, with its ubiquitin ligase function, was associated with significantly improved overall and disease-free survival, which has yet to be documented for ACC.
CONCLUSION: We present novel biomarkers that assist in determining prognosis for patients with ACC. Ki-67, TOP2A, and EZH2 were all significantly associated with poorer outcomes, whereas BARD1 was associated with improved overall survival. It is hoped that these biomarkers may help tailor additional therapy and be potential targets for directed therapy.

Wasserman JD, Novokmet A, Eichler-Jonsson C, et al.
Prevalence and functional consequence of TP53 mutations in pediatric adrenocortical carcinoma: a children's oncology group study.
J Clin Oncol. 2015; 33(6):602-9 [PubMed] Related Publications
PURPOSE: Adrenocortical carcinoma (ACC) is a rare pediatric malignancy. It occurs in excess among individuals with the Li-Fraumeni syndrome, which results primarily from germline mutations in the TP53 gene. Prior series exploring frequencies of germline TP53 mutation among children with ACC have been small, geographically limited, or subject to referral bias. The functional consequence of mutations has not been related to phenotype. We provide a genotype-phenotype analysis of TP53 mutations in pediatric ACC and propose a model for tissue-specific effects based on adrenocortical ontogeny.
PATIENTS AND METHODS: Eighty-eight consecutive, unrelated children with ACC, unselected for family history, underwent germline TP53 sequencing. Rate and distribution of mutations were identified. Functional analysis was performed for novel TP53 variants. Correlation with the International Agency for Research on Cancer p53 database further delineated mutational distribution, association with family history, and risk for multiple primary malignancies (MPMs).
RESULTS: Germline mutations were present in 50% of children. These mutations did not correspond to the conventional hotspot mutations. There was a wide range of mutant protein function. Patients bearing alleles encoding protein with higher functionality were less likely to have a strong family cancer history, whereas those with greater loss of function had MPMs and/or positive family history. In patients with MPMs, ACC was the most frequent initial malignancy. Finally, we demonstrated age-dependent rates of TP53 mutation positivity.
CONCLUSION: TP53 mutations are prevalent in children with ACC but decline with age. Mutations result in a broad spectrum of functional loss. Effect of individual mutations may predict carrier and familial disease penetrance with potentially broad implications for clinical surveillance and counseling.

Juhlin CC, Goh G, Healy JM, et al.
Whole-exome sequencing characterizes the landscape of somatic mutations and copy number alterations in adrenocortical carcinoma.
J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2015; 100(3):E493-502 [PubMed] Related Publications
CONTEXT: Adrenocortical carcinoma (ACC) is a rare and lethal malignancy with a poorly defined etiology, and the molecular genetics of ACC are incompletely understood.
OBJECTIVE: To utilize whole-exome sequencing for genetic characterization of the underlying somatic mutations and copy number alterations present in ACC.
DESIGN: Screening for somatic mutation events and copy number alterations (CNAs) was performed by comparative analysis of tumors and matched normal samples from 41 patients with ACC.
RESULTS: In total, 966 nonsynonymous somatic mutations were detected, including 40 tumors with a mean of 16 mutations per sample and one tumor with 314 mutations. Somatic mutations in ACC-associated genes included TP53 (8/41 tumors, 19.5%) and CTNNB1 (4/41, 9.8%). Genes with potential disease-causing mutations included GNAS, NF2, and RB1, and recurrently mutated genes with unknown roles in tumorigenesis comprised CDC27, SCN7A, and SDK1. Recurrent CNAs included amplification at 5p15.33 including TERT (6/41, 14.6%) and homozygous deletion at 22q12.1 including the Wnt repressors ZNRF3 and KREMEN1 (4/41 9.8% and 3/41, 7.3%, respectively). Somatic mutations in ACC-established genes and recurrent ZNRF3 and TERT loci CNAs were mutually exclusive in the majority of cases. Moreover, gene ontology identified Wnt signaling as the most frequently mutated pathway in ACCs.
CONCLUSIONS: These findings highlight the importance of Wnt pathway dysregulation in ACC and corroborate the finding of homozygous deletion of Wnt repressors ZNRF3 and KREMEN1. Overall, mutations in either TP53 or CTNNB1 as well as focal CNAs at the ZNRF3 or TERT loci denote mutually exclusive events, suggesting separate mechanisms underlying the development of these tumors.

Smardová J, Koptíková J
[Brazilian story of the R337H p53 mutation].
Klin Onkol. 2014; 27(4):247-54 [PubMed] Related Publications
The p53 tumor suppressor is an evergreen of molecular oncology. Since its discovery in 1979, it has been subjected to intensive investigation. The p53 protein is composed of "only" 393 amino acid residues, and function of almost each of them has been addressed in detail. Somatic mutations are extremely frequent, they can be found almost in each of the p53 codons and in all types of tumors. Inherited p53 mutations are rare but very penetrant, and they are typically associated with development of a broad spectrum of tumors. However, in 2001, the p53 research provided an unexpected discovery: the R337H allele was found in southern Brazil. This allele was atypically associated with only one type of tumor -  childhood adrenocortical carcinoma and it exhibited low penetrance. Therefore, new data on functioning and impact of the R337H mutation were highly desired. The results obtained during a few following years helped to elucidate not only this specific p53 variant but also provided insight into general principles of mutant p53 variants function. It also turned out that all R337H alleles that are very frequent in southern Brazil originate from one common ancestor.

Guillaud-Bataille M, Ragazzon B, de Reyniès A, et al.
IGF2 promotes growth of adrenocortical carcinoma cells, but its overexpression does not modify phenotypic and molecular features of adrenocortical carcinoma.
PLoS One. 2014; 9(8):e103744 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 01/03/2016 Related Publications
Insulin-like growth factor 2 (IGF2) overexpression is an important molecular marker of adrenocortical carcinoma (ACC), which is a rare but devastating endocrine cancer. It is not clear whether IGF2 overexpression modifies the biology and growth of this cancer, thus more studies are required before IGF2 can be considered as a major therapeutic target. We compared the phenotypical, clinical, biological, and molecular characteristics of ACC with or without the overexpression of IGF2, to address these issues. We also carried out a similar analysis in an ACC cell line (H295R) in which IGF2 expression was knocked down with si- or shRNA. We found no significant differences in the clinical, biological and molecular (transcriptomic) traits between IGF2-high and IGF2-low ACC. The absence of IGF2 overexpression had little influence on the activation of tyrosine kinase pathways both in tumors and in H295 cells that express low levels of IGF2. In IGF2-low tumors, other growth factors (FGF9, PDGFA) are more expressed than in IGF2-high tumors, suggesting that they play a compensatory role in tumor progression. In addition, IGF2 knock-down in H295R cells substantially impaired growth (>50% inhibition), blocked cells in G1 phase, and promoted apoptosis (>2-fold). Finally, analysis of the 11p15 locus showed a paternal uniparental disomy in both IGF2-high and IGF2-low tumors, but low IGF2 expression could be explained in most IGF2-low ACC by an additional epigenetic modification at the 11p15 locus. Altogether, these observations confirm the active role of IGF2 in adrenocortical tumor growth, but also suggest that other growth promoting pathways may be involved in a subset of ACC with low IGF2 expression, which creates opportunities for the use of other targeted therapies.

Ross JS, Wang K, Rand JV, et al.
Next-generation sequencing of adrenocortical carcinoma reveals new routes to targeted therapies.
J Clin Pathol. 2014; 67(11):968-73 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 01/03/2016 Related Publications
AIMS: Adrenocortical carcinoma (ACC) carries a poor prognosis and current systemic cytotoxic therapies result in only modest improvement in overall survival. In this retrospective study, we performed a comprehensive genomic profiling of 29 consecutive ACC samples to identify potential targets of therapy not currently searched for in routine clinical practice.
METHODS: DNA from 29 ACC was sequenced to high, uniform coverage (Illumina HiSeq) and analysed for genomic alterations (GAs).
RESULTS: At least one GA was found in 22 (76%) ACC (mean 2.6 alterations per ACC). The most frequent GAs were in TP53 (34%), NF1 (14%), CDKN2A (14%), MEN1 (14%), CTNNB1 (10%) and ATM (10%). APC, CCND2, CDK4, DAXX, DNMT3A, KDM5C, LRP1B, MSH2 and RB1 were each altered in two cases (7%) and EGFR, ERBB4, KRAS, MDM2, NRAS, PDGFRB, PIK3CA, PTEN and PTCH1 were each altered in a single case (3%). In 17 (59%) of ACC, at least one GA was associated with an available therapeutic or a mechanism-based clinical trial.
CONCLUSIONS: Next-generation sequencing can discover targets of therapy for relapsed and metastatic ACC and shows promise to improve outcomes for this aggressive form of cancer.

Jain M, Zhang L, Boufraqech M, et al.
ZNF367 inhibits cancer progression and is targeted by miR-195.
PLoS One. 2014; 9(7):e101423 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 01/03/2016 Related Publications
BACKGROUND: Several members of the zinc finger protein family have been recently shown to have a role in cancer initiation and progression. Zinc finger protein 367 (ZNF367) is a member of the zinc finger protein family and is expressed in embryonic or fetal erythroid tissue but is absent in normal adult tissue.
METHODOLOGY/PRINCIPAL FINDINGS: We show that ZNF367 is overexpressed in adrenocortical carcinoma, malignant pheochromocytoma/paraganglioma and thyroid cancer as compared to normal tissue and benign tumors. Using both functional knockdown and ectopic overexpression in multiple cell lines, we show that ZNF367 inhibits cellular proliferation, invasion, migration, and adhesion to extracellular proteins in vitro and in vivo. Integrated gene and microRNA expression analyses showed an inverse correlation between ZNF367 and miR-195 expression. Luciferase assays demonstrated that miR-195 directly regulates ZNF367 expression and that miR-195 regulates cellular invasion. Moreover, integrin alpha 3 (ITGA3) expression was regulated by ZNF367.
CONCLUSIONS/SIGNIFICANCE: Our findings taken together suggest that ZNF367 regulates cancer progression.

Papathomas TG, Oudijk L, Zwarthoff EC, et al.
Telomerase reverse transcriptase promoter mutations in tumors originating from the adrenal gland and extra-adrenal paraganglia.
Endocr Relat Cancer. 2014; 21(4):653-61 [PubMed] Related Publications
Hotspot mutations in the promoter of the telomerase reverse transcriptase (TERT) gene have been recently reported in human cancers and proposed as a novel mechanism of telomerase activation. To explore TERT promoter mutations in tumors originating from the adrenal gland and extra-adrenal paraganglia, a set of 253 tumors (38 adrenocortical carcinomas (ACCs), 127 pheochromocytomas (PCCs), 18 extra-adrenal paragangliomas (ea PGLs), 37 head and neck PGLs (HN PGLs), and 33 peripheral neuroblastic tumors) was selected along with 16 human neuroblastoma (NBL) and two ACC cell lines to assess TERT promoter mutations by the Sanger sequencing method. All mutations detected were confirmed by a SNaPshot assay. Additionally, 36 gastrointestinal stromal tumors (GISTs) were added to explore an association between TERT promoter mutations and SDH deficiency. TERT promoter mutations were found in seven out of 289 tumors and in three out of 18 human cell lines; four C228T mutations in 38 ACCs (10.5%), two C228T mutations in 18 ea PGLs (11.1%), one C250T mutation in 36 GISTs (2.8%), and three C228T mutations in 16 human NBL cell lines (18.75%). No mutation was detected in PCCs, HN PGLs, neuroblastic tumors as well as ACC cell lines. TERT promoter mutations preferentially occurred in a SDH-deficient setting (P=0.01) being present in three out of 47 (6.4%) SDH-deficient tumors vs zero out of 171 (0%) SDH-intact tumors. We conclude that TERT promoter mutations occur in ACCs and ea PGLs. In addition, preliminary evidence indicates a potential association with the acquisition of TERT promoter mutations in SDH-deficient tumors.

De Martino MC, Feelders RA, de Herder WW, et al.
Characterization of the mTOR pathway in human normal adrenal and adrenocortical tumors.
Endocr Relat Cancer. 2014; 21(4):601-13 [PubMed] Related Publications
The mTOR pathway has recently been suggested as a new potential target for therapy in adrenocortical carcinomas (ACCs). The aim of the current study is to describe the expression of the mTOR pathway in normal adrenals (NAs) and pathological adrenals and to explore whether there are correlation between the expression of these proteins and the in vitro response to sirolimus. For this purpose, the MTOR, S6K1 (RPS6KB1), and 4EBP1 (EIF4EBP1) mRNA expression were evaluated in ten NAs, ten adrenal hyperplasias (AHs), 17 adrenocortical adenomas (ACAs), and 17 ACCs by qPCR, whereas total(t)/phospho(p)-MTOR, t/p-S6K, and t/p-4EBP1 protein expression were assessed in three NAs, three AHs, six ACAs, and 20 ACCs by immunohistochemistry. The effects of sirolimus on cell survival and/or cortisol secretion in 12 human primary cultures of adrenocortical tumors (ATs) were also evaluated. In NAs and AHs, layer-specific expression of evaluated proteins was observed. S6K1 mRNA levels were lower in ACCs compared with NAs, AHs, and ACAs (P<0.01). A subset of ATs presented a moderate to high staining of the evaluated proteins. Median t-S6K1 protein expression in ACCs was lower than that in ACAs (P<0.01). Moderate to high staining of p-S6K1 and/or p-4EBP1 was observed in most ATs. A subset of ACCs not having moderate to high staining had a higher Weiss score than others (P<0.029). In primary AT cultures, sirolimus significantly reduced cell survival or cortisol secretion only in sporadic cases. In conclusion, these data suggest the presence of an activated mTOR pathway in a subset of ATs and a possible response to sirolimus only in certain ACC cases.

Duregon E, Rapa I, Votta A, et al.
MicroRNA expression patterns in adrenocortical carcinoma variants and clinical pathologic correlations.
Hum Pathol. 2014; 45(8):1555-62 [PubMed] Related Publications
Several microRNAs (miRNAs) were shown to be deregulated in adrenocortical carcinoma (ACC) as compared with adenoma, but a detailed assessment of their expression in its histologic variants and correlation with clinicopathologic characteristics has not been performed, so far. Our aim was to assess the expression of 5 selected miRNAs (IGF2 gene-related miR-483-3p and 5p and hypoxia-induced miR-210, miR-195, and miR-1974) in a series of 51 ACCs (35 classical, 6 myxoid, and 10 oncocytic) as compared with clinical and pathologic features and immunohistochemical expression of prognostic markers, including steroidogenic factor 1, p53, β-catenin, and glucose transporter 1. Oncocytic carcinomas had a reduced expression of miR-483-3p (P = .0325), miR-483-5p (P = .0175), and miR-210 (P = .0366), as compared with other histotypes. Overexpression of miR-210 was associated with the presence of necrosis (P = .0035), high Ki-67 index (P = .0013), and high glucose transporter 1 expression (P = .0043), whereas an inverse correlation with mitotic rate was observed in cases with high miR-493-3p (P = .0191) and miR-1974 (P = .0017) expression. High miR-1974 was also associated with low Ki-67 (P = .0312) and European Network for the Study of Adrenal Tumors stage (P = .0082) and negative p53 (P = .0013). At univariate analysis myxoid/classic histotype (P = .026), high miR-210 (P = .0465), high steroidogenic factor 1 protein (P = .0017), high Ki-67 (P = .0066), and high mitotic index (P = .0006) were significantly associated the shorter overall survival, the latter being the sole independent prognostic factor at multivariate analysis (P = .017). In conclusion, (a) miR-483-3p, miR-483-5p, and miR-210 are differentially expressed in ACC variants, and (b) high miR-210 is associated with clinicopathologic parameters of aggressiveness and a poor prognosis.

Liu T, Brown TC, Juhlin CC, et al.
The activating TERT promoter mutation C228T is recurrent in subsets of adrenal tumors.
Endocr Relat Cancer. 2014; 21(3):427-34 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 01/03/2016 Related Publications
The telomerase reverse transcriptase gene (TERT) encodes the reverse transcriptase component of the telomerase complex, which is essential for telomere stabilization and cell immortalization. Recent studies have demonstrated a transcriptional activation role for the TERT promoter mutations C228T and C250T in many human cancers, as well as a role in aggressive disease with potential clinical applications. Although telomerase activation is known in adrenal tumors, the underlying mechanisms are not established. We assessed C228T and C250T TERT mutations by direct Sanger sequencing in tumors of the adrenal gland, and further evaluated potential associations with clinical parameters and telomerase activation. A total of 199 tumors were evaluated, including 34 adrenocortical carcinomas (ACC), 47 adrenocortical adenomas (ACA), 105 pheochromocytomas (PCC; ten malignant and 95 benign), and 13 abdominal paragangliomas (PGL; nine malignant and four benign). TERT expression levels were determined by quantitative RT-PCR. The C228T mutation was detected in 4/34 ACCs (12%), but not in any ACA (P=0.028). C228T was also observed in one benign PCC and in one metastatic PGL. The C250T mutation was not observed in any case. In the ACC and PGL groups, TERT mutation-positive cases exhibited TERT expression, indicating telomerase activation; however, since expression was also revealed in TERT WT cases, this could denote additional mechanisms of TERT activation. To conclude, the TERT promoter mutation C228T is a recurrent event associated with TERT expression in ACCs, but rarely occurs in PGL and PCC. The involvement of the TERT gene in ACC represents a novel mutated gene in this entity.

Assié G, Letouzé E, Fassnacht M, et al.
Integrated genomic characterization of adrenocortical carcinoma.
Nat Genet. 2014; 46(6):607-12 [PubMed] Related Publications
Adrenocortical carcinomas (ACCs) are aggressive cancers originating in the cortex of the adrenal gland. Despite overall poor prognosis, ACC outcome is heterogeneous. We performed exome sequencing and SNP array analysis of 45 ACCs and identified recurrent alterations in known driver genes (CTNNB1, TP53, CDKN2A, RB1 and MEN1) and in genes not previously reported in ACC (ZNRF3, DAXX, TERT and MED12), which we validated in an independent cohort of 77 ACCs. ZNRF3, encoding a cell surface E3 ubiquitin ligase, was the most frequently altered gene (21%) and is a potential new tumor suppressor gene related to the β-catenin pathway. Our integrated genomic analyses further identified two distinct molecular subgroups with opposite outcome. The C1A group of ACCs with poor outcome displayed numerous mutations and DNA methylation alterations, whereas the C1B group of ACCs with good prognosis displayed specific deregulation of two microRNA clusters. Thus, aggressive and indolent ACCs correspond to two distinct molecular entities driven by different oncogenic alterations.

Erickson LA, Rivera M, Zhang J
Adrenocortical carcinoma: review and update.
Adv Anat Pathol. 2014; 21(3):151-9 [PubMed] Related Publications
Adrenocortical carcinoma is a rare endocrine tumor with a poor prognosis. These tumors can be diagnostically challenging, and diagnostic algorithms and criteria continue to be suggested. Myxoid and oncocytic variants are important to recognize to not confuse with other tumors. In addition, the diagnostic criteria are different for oncocytic adrenal carcinomas than conventional carcinomas. Adrenocortical carcinomas usually occur in adults, but can also occur in children. In children these tumors are diagnostically challenging as the histologic features of malignancy seen in an adult tumor may not be associated with aggressive disease in a child. Adrenocortical carcinomas occur with increased frequency in Beckwith-Wiedemann and Li-Fraumeni syndromes, but most occur sporadically. Gene expression profiling by transcriptome analysis can discriminate adrenocortical carcinomas from adenomas and divide carcinomas into prognostic groups. The increasing understanding of the pathogenesis of these tumors may provide increasing treatment targets for this aggressive tumor.

Gomes DC, Leal LF, Mermejo LM, et al.
Sonic hedgehog signaling is active in human adrenal cortex development and deregulated in adrenocortical tumors.
J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2014; 99(7):E1209-16 [PubMed] Related Publications
BACKGROUND: The sonic hedgehog (SHH) pathway plays a key role in rodent adrenal cortex development and is involved in tumorigenesis in several human tissues, but data in human adrenal glands are limited.
OBJECTIVES: The objectives of the study were to analyze the involvement of the SHH pathway in human adrenal development and tumorigenesis and the effects of SHH inhibition on an adrenocortical tumor (ACT) cell line.
PATIENTS AND METHODS: Expression of SHH pathway components was evaluated by immunohistochemistry in 51 normal adrenals (33 fetal) and 34 ACTs (23 pediatric) and by quantitative PCR in 81 ACTs (61 pediatric) and 19 controls (10 pediatric). The effects of SHH pathway inhibition on gene expression and cell viability in the NCI-H295A adrenocortical tumor cell line after cyclopamine treatment were analyzed.
RESULTS: SHH pathway proteins were present in fetal and postnatal normal adrenals and showed distinct patterns of spatiotemporal expression throughout development. Adult adrenocortical carcinomas presented with higher expression of PTCH1, SMO, GLI3, and SUFU compared with normal adult adrenal cortices. Conversely, pediatric ACTs showed lower mRNA expression of SHH, PTCH1, SMO, GLI1, and GLI3 compared with normal pediatric adrenal cortices. In vitro treatment with cyclopamine resulted in decreased GLI3, SFRP1, and CTNNB1 mRNA expression and β-catenin staining as well as decreased cell viability.
CONCLUSIONS: The SHH pathway is active in human fetal and postnatal adrenals, up-regulated in adult adrenocortical carcinomas, and down-regulated in pediatric ACTs. SHH pathway antagonism impaired cell viability. The SHH pathway is deregulated in ACTs and might provide a new target therapy to be explored.

Heinze B, Herrmann LJ, Fassnacht M, et al.
Less common genotype variants of TP53 polymorphisms are associated with poor outcome in adult patients with adrenocortical carcinoma.
Eur J Endocrinol. 2014; 170(5):707-17 [PubMed] Related Publications
CONTEXT: The Li-Fraumeni tumor syndrome is strongly associated with adrenocortical carcinoma (ACC) and is caused by germline mutations in TP53 in 70% of cases. Also, TP53 polymorphisms have been shown to influence both cancer risk and clinical outcome in several tumor entities. We, therefore, investigated TP53 polymorphisms in a cohort of adult patients with ACC.
OBJECTIVE: Evaluation of the role of TP53 polymorphisms in adult patients with ACC.
SUBJECTS AND METHODS: Peripheral blood for DNA extraction was collected from 72 ACC patients. Polymorphism analysis was carried out by amplification and sequencing of exons and adjacent intron sections of TP53. Results were correlated with clinical data and the distribution of the polymorphisms was compared with published Caucasian control groups.
RESULTS: Compared with control groups, genotype frequencies of analyzed TP53 polymorphisms among ACC patients were significantly different in three out of four polymorphisms: IVS2+38G>C (G/G, P=0.0248), IVS3ins16 (NoIns/NoIns, P<0.0001; NoIns/Ins, P<0.0001), and IVS6+62A>G (G/G, P<0.0001; G/A, P<0.0001). Overall, the survival of ACC patients, which harbored at least one of the less frequent genotype variants of four analyzed polymorphisms (n=23), was significantly inferior (median survival: 81.0 months in patients with the common homozygous genotypes vs 20.0 months in patients with the less frequent genotypes, HR 2.56, 95% CI 1.66-7.07; P=0.001). These results were confirmed by multivariable regression analysis (HR 2.84, 95% CI 1.52-7.17; P=0.037).
CONCLUSION: Some TP53 polymorphisms seem to influence overall survival in ACC patients. This effect was observed for a combination of polymorphic changes rather than for single polymorphisms.

Zhang J, Wang C, Gao J, et al.
Adrenal cortical neoplasms: a study of clinicopathological features related to epidermal growth factor receptor gene status.
Diagn Pathol. 2014; 9:19 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 01/03/2016 Related Publications
BACKGROUND: Adrenocortical carcinoma (ACC) is a rare but highly malignant neoplasm with limited treatment options.
METHODS: In this study, the clinicopathological features of 22 ACCs and 22 adrenocortical adenomas (ACA) were analyzed, and the EGFR protein expression, EGFR gene mutation status and EGFR gene copy number alteration of all tumors were examined using immunohistochemistry, fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH), and the Scorpion Amplification Refractory Mutation System (ARMS), respectively.
RESULTS: EGFR protein expression was detected in 63.6% of the ACC samples, and EGFR FISH was positive in 50% of the ACC samples (all were high polysomy on chromosome 7). In contrast, 27.3% of the ACA samples demonstrated EGFR expression, and none of the ACA samples tested positive by FISH. There were significant differences between the ACC and ACA in terms of protein expression (P = 0.035) and gene copy number alterations (P < 0.001).
CONCLUSIONS: EGFR protein expression and high polysomy on chromosome 7 are frequent abnormalities in ACC than in ACA.
VIRTUAL SLIDES: The virtual slide(s) for this article can be found here: http://www.diagnosticpathology.diagnomx.eu/vs/2068470757103500.

Ragazzon B, Libé R, Assié G, et al.
Mass-array screening of frequent mutations in cancers reveals RB1 alterations in aggressive adrenocortical carcinomas.
Eur J Endocrinol. 2014; 170(3):385-91 [PubMed] Related Publications
CONTEXT: Adrenocortical carcinoma (ACC) is a rare disease with a poor overall outcome. Transcriptome analysis identified two groups of ACCs with different prognosis. In aggressive ACCs, somatic mutations of the tumor suppressor gene TP53 and the proto-oncogene β-catenin are detected in 50% of cases. For the remaining aggressive ACCs and for the group with a better prognosis, molecular alterations are unknown.
OBJECTIVE: To identify new molecular actors driving adrenal tumorigenesis.
EXPERIMENTAL DESIGN: Analysis by mass array of 374 mutations among 32 common oncogenes or tumor suppressor genes was performed on the tumoral DNA of 26 ACCs, using Sequenom OncoCarta Panels.
RESULTS: Four mutations were identified, two previously known β-catenin mutations and one alteration in two other genes: JAK3 and retinoblastoma gene (RB1). The JAK3 alteration was found in leukocyte DNA and therefore considered as a polymorphism and not a somatic event. The full RB1 tumor suppressor gene was subsequently sequenced in a cohort of 49 ACCs (26 ACCs from the 'OncoCarta cohort' and 23 other ACCs): three somatic mutations were identified, all in the poor-outcome ACC group. By immunohistochemistry, a loss of the retinoblastoma protein (pRb) was found exclusively in aggressive ACCs in 27% of cases (seven out of 26), three of them with an inactivating RB1 mutation. Among the seven pRb-negative ACCs, five had an allele loss at the RB1 locus.
CONCLUSIONS: Parallel analysis of somatic mutations among known cancer genes allowed us to identify RB1 as a new actor in aggressive ACCs. These results suggest a prognostic significance of pRb expression loss in ACCs.

Szabó DR, Luconi M, Szabó PM, et al.
Analysis of circulating microRNAs in adrenocortical tumors.
Lab Invest. 2014; 94(3):331-9 [PubMed] Related Publications
Differential diagnosis of adrenocortical adenoma (ACA) and carcinoma is of pivotal clinical relevance, as the prognosis and clinical management of benign and malignant adrenocortical tumors (ACTs) is entirely different. Circulating microRNAs (miRNAs) are promising biomarker candidates of malignancy in several tumors; however, there are still numerous technical problems associated with their analysis. The objective of our study was to investigate circulating miRNAs in ACTs and to evaluate their potential applicability as biomarkers of malignancy. We have also addressed technical questions including the choice of profiling and reference gene used. A total of 25 preoperative plasma samples obtained from patients with ACAs and carcinomas were studied by microarray and quantitative real-time PCR. None of the three miRNAs (hsa-miR-192, hsa-mir-197 and hsa-miR-1281) found as differentially expressed in plasma samples in our microarray screening could be validated by quantitative real-time PCR. In contrast, of the selected eight miRNAs reported in the literature as differentially expressed in ACT tissues, five (hsa-miR-100, hsa-miR-181b, hsa-miR-184, hsa-miR-210 and hsa-miR-483-5p) showed a statistically significant overexpression in adrenocortical cancer vs adenoma when normalized on hsa-miR-16 as a reference gene. Receiver operator characteristic analysis of data revealed that the combination of dCThsa-miR-210 - dCThsa-miR-181b and dCThsa-miR-100/dCThsa-miR-181b showed the highest diagnostic accuracy (area under curve 0.87 and 0.85, respectively). In conclusion, we have found significant differences in expression of circulating miRNAs between ACAs and carcinomas, but their diagnostic accuracy is not yet high enough for clinical application. Further studies on larger cohorts of patients are needed to assess the diagnostic and prognostic potential application of circulating miRNA markers.

Demeure MJ, Coan KE, Grant CS, et al.
PTTG1 overexpression in adrenocortical cancer is associated with poor survival and represents a potential therapeutic target.
Surgery. 2013; 154(6):1405-16; discussion 1416 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 01/03/2016 Related Publications
BACKGROUND: Adrenocortical carcinoma (ACC) is associated with poor survival rates. The objective of the study was to analyze ACC gene expression profiling data for prognostic biomarkers and therapeutic targets.
METHODS: We profiled 44 ACC and 4 normal adrenals on Affymetrix U133 Plus 2 expression microarrays. Pathway and transcriptional enrichment analysis was performed. Protein levels were determined by Western blot. Drug efficacy was assessed against ACC cell lines. Previously published expression datasets were analyzed for validation.
RESULTS: Pathway enrichment analysis identified marked dysregulation of cyclin-dependent kinases and mitosis. Overexpression of PTTG1, which encodes securin, a negative regulator of p53, was identified as a marker of poor survival. Median survival for patients with tumors expressing high PTTG1 levels (log2 ratio of PTTG1 to average β-actin <-3.04) was 1.8 years compared with 9.0 years if tumors expressed lower levels of PTTG1 (P < .0001). Analysis of a previously published dataset confirmed the association of high PTTG1 expression with a poor prognosis. Treatment of 2 ACC cell lines with vorinostat decreased securin levels and inhibited cell growth (median inhibition concentrations of 1.69 μmol/L and 0.891 μmol/L, for SW-13 and H295R, respectively).
CONCLUSION: Overexpression of PTTG1 is correlated with poor survival in ACC. PTTG1/securin is a prognostic biomarker and warrants investigation as a therapeutic target.

Giacomazzi J, Selistre SG, Rossi C, et al.
Li-Fraumeni and Li-Fraumeni-like syndrome among children diagnosed with pediatric cancer in Southern Brazil.
Cancer. 2013; 119(24):4341-9 [PubMed] Related Publications
BACKGROUND: Pediatric cancers are a feature in patients with Li-Fraumeni syndrome and its variant Li-Fraumeni-like syndrome (LFS/LFL). To the best of the authors' knowledge, TP53 germline mutations are currently the only molecular defect known to be associated with this disease. Recently, a specific germline mutation in this gene, p.R337H, has been reported at a high prevalence in Brazil.
METHODS: The prevalence of LFS/LFL was investigated in children with cancer who were diagnosed with tumors on the LFS/LFL spectrum and in a small consecutive series of controls without cancer. The prevalence of the germline p.R337H mutation and of other germline TP53 mutations was investigated in a general group of children with cancer and exclusively in children fulfilling the clinical criteria for LFS/LFL, respectively.
RESULTS: Among the 65 children without cancer, 1.5% had a family history of LFL whereas of the 292 children with cancer, 25.3% had a family history of LFL (P < .001). Screening for the p.R337H mutation identified 11 carriers (3.7%), 9 of whom were diagnosed with adrenocortical carcinomas (ACC) and 2 of whom were diagnosed with choroid plexus carcinomas. One of the ACC probands was homozygous mutant. The Brazilian founder haplotype and loss of heterozygosity at the p.R337H locus were present in all carriers. In addition, direct sequencing of the entire TP53 coding region and gene rearrangement analysis of probands fulfilling the criteria for LFL (Eeles 2 criteria, Birch and/or Chompret criteria) and who were negative for the p.R337H mutation revealed a DNA-binding domain pathogenic mutation, p.G245S, in 1 child.
CONCLUSIONS: TP53 p.R337H testing should be offered to Brazilian children diagnosed with ACC and choroid plexus carcinoma. A significant percentage of children with cancer in southern Brazil fulfill the criteria for LFL and should be referred for genetic risk assessment.

De Martino MC, Al Ghuzlan A, Aubert S, et al.
Molecular screening for a personalized treatment approach in advanced adrenocortical cancer.
J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2013; 98(10):4080-8 [PubMed] Related Publications
CONTEXT: Adrenocortical cancer (ACC) is a rare cancer with poor prognosis and scant treatment options. In ACC, no personalized approach has emerged but no extensive molecular screening has been performed to date.
OBJECTIVE: The objective of the study was to evaluate the presence of a large number of potentially targetable molecular events in a large cohort of advanced ACC.
DESIGN, SETTING, AND PARTICIPANTS: We used hot spot gene sequencing (Ion Torrent, 40 patients) and comparative genomic hybridization (CGH; 28 patients; a subset of the entire cohort) in adult stage III-IV ACC samples to screen for mutations and copy number abnormalities of potential interest for therapeutic use in 46 and 130 genes, respectively.
RESULTS: At least one copy number alteration or mutation was found in 19 patients (47.5%). The most frequent mutations were detected on TP53, ATM, and CTNNB1 [6 of 40 (15%), 5 of 40 (12.5%), and 4 of 40 (10%), respectively]. The most frequent copy number alterations identified were: amplification of the CDK4 oncogene (5 of 28; 17.9%) and deletion of the CDKN2A (4 of 28; 14.3%) and CDKN2B (3 of 28; 10.7%) tumor suppressor genes. Amplifications of FGFR1, FGF9, or FRS2 were discovered in three subjects (10.7%). Associated alterations were: deletions of CDKN2A, CDKN2B with ATM mutations, and TP53 mutations with CTNNB1 mutations.
CONCLUSIONS: No simple targetable molecular event emerged. Drugs targeting the cell cycle could be the most relevant new therapeutic approach for patients with advanced ACC. Inhibitors of the fibroblast growth factor receptor pathway could also be a therapeutic option in a subset of patients, whereas other targeted therapies should be considered on a case-by-case basis.

Korah R, Healy JM, Kunstman JW, et al.
Epigenetic silencing of RASSF1A deregulates cytoskeleton and promotes malignant behavior of adrenocortical carcinoma.
Mol Cancer. 2013; 12:87 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 01/03/2016 Related Publications
BACKGROUND: Adrenocortical carcinoma (ACC) is a rare endocrine malignancy with high mutational heterogeneity and a generally poor clinical outcome. Despite implicated roles of deregulated TP53, IGF-2 and Wnt signaling pathways, a clear genetic association or unique mutational link to the disease is still missing. Recent studies suggest a crucial role for epigenetic modifications in the genesis and/or progression of ACC. This study specifically evaluates the potential role of epigenetic silencing of RASSF1A, the most commonly silenced tumor suppressor gene, in adrenocortical malignancy.
RESULTS: Using adrenocortical tumor and normal tissue specimens, we show a significant reduction in expression of RASSF1A mRNA and protein in ACC. Methylation-sensitive and -dependent restriction enzyme based PCR assays revealed significant DNA hypermethylation of the RASSF1A promoter, suggesting an epigenetic mechanism for RASSF1A silencing in ACC. Conversely, the RASSF1A promoter methylation profile in benign adrenocortical adenomas (ACAs) was found to be very similar to that found in normal adrenal cortex. Enforced expression of ectopic RASSF1A in the SW-13 ACC cell line reduced the overall malignant behavior of the cells, which included impairment of invasion through the basement membrane, cell motility, and solitary cell survival and growth. On the other hand, expression of RASSF1A/A133S, a loss-of-function mutant form of RASSF1A, failed to elicit similar malignancy-suppressing responses in ACC cells. Moreover, association of RASSF1A with the cytoskeleton in RASSF1A-expressing ACC cells and normal adrenal cortex suggests a role for RASSF1A in modulating microtubule dynamics in the adrenal cortex, and thereby potentially blocking malignant progression.
CONCLUSIONS: Downregulation of RASSF1A via promoter hypermethylation may play a role in the malignant progression of adrenocortical carcinoma possibly by abrogating differentiation-promoting RASSF1A- microtubule interactions.

Guimier A, Ragazzon B, Assié G, et al.
AXIN genetic analysis in adrenocortical carcinomas updated.
J Endocrinol Invest. 2013; 36(11):1000-3 [PubMed] Related Publications
BACKGROUND: Wnt/β-catenin signaling pathway activation plays an important role in adrenocortical tumorigenesis, but is only in part related to β-catenin activating somatic mutations. Recently, genetic alteration in AXIN2, a key component of the Wnt/β-catenin signaling pathway, has been described in adrenocortical tumors and specifically in adrenocortical carcinoma (ACC).
AIM: To assess frequency and consequences of AXIN genes alteration on a large cohort of ACC.
PATIENTS AND METHODS: Forty-nine adult sporadic ACC, with expression data available, in addition to both ACC cell lines H295 and H295R were studied. AXIN2 exon 8 hot-spot sequencing was performed on the entire cohort. AXIN1 entire coding region was studied on the 8 ACC with nuclear β-catenin staining.
RESULTS: The previously described AXIN2 in-frame heterozygous 12bp deletion c2013_2024del12 was found in 1 of the 49 ACC studied (2%), in a tumor with pSer45del activating CTNNB1 mutation and nuclear β-catenin staining. This heterozygous deletion was also found in the patient's germline DNA, extracted from peripheral blood leukocytes. This genetic alteration was also present in H295 and H295R cell lines. The single-nucleotide polymorphism rs35415678 was found with an allele frequency similar to those found in reference populations. No correlation between AXIN2 expression, AXIN2 genetic variant or nuclear β- catenin staining was observed. No AXIN1 alterations were found in the 8 ACC studied.
CONCLUSIONS: AXIN genes do not play a major role in ACC tumorigenesis and Wnt/β-catenin signaling pathway activation. AXIN2 germline variant c2013_2024del12 is likely to be a non-pathogenic polymorphism.

Borges KS, Moreno DA, Martinelli CE, et al.
Spindle assembly checkpoint gene expression in childhood adrenocortical tumors (ACT): Overexpression of Aurora kinases A and B is associated with a poor prognosis.
Pediatr Blood Cancer. 2013; 60(11):1809-16 [PubMed] Related Publications
BACKGROUND: Pediatric adrenocortical tumors (ACT) are rare malignancies and treatment has a small impact on survival in advanced disease and the discovery of potential target genes could be important in new therapeutic approaches.
METHODS: The mRNA expression levels of spindle checkpoint genes AURKA, AURKB, BUB, and BUBR1 were analyzed in 60 children with ACT by quantitative real time PCR. The anticancer effect of ZM447439, an experimental AURK inhibitor, was analyzed in a primary childhood ACT culture carrying the TP53 p.R337H mutation.
RESULTS: A significant association was observed between malignancy as defined by Weiss score ≥3 and higher AURKA (2.0-fold, P = 0.01), AURKB (7.0-fold, P = 0.007), and BUBR1 (5.8-fold, P = 0.007) gene expression, and between unfavorable event (death or relapse) and higher expression of AURKA (6.0-fold, P = 0.034) and AURKB (17-fold, P = 0.013). Overexpression of AURKA and AURKB was associated with lower event-free survival in uni- (P < 0.001 and P = 0.006, respectively) and multivariate (P = 0.002 and P = 0.03, respectively) analysis. Significant lower Event free survival (EFS) was also observed in patients with moderate/strong immunostaining to AURKA (P = 0.012) and AURKB (P = 0.045). ZM447439 was able to induce inhibition of proliferation and colony formation in a primary childhood ACT culture carrying the TP53 p.R337H mutation.
CONCLUSION: Our results suggest that AURKA and AURKB overexpression in pediatric ACT may be related to more aggressive disease and the inhibition of these proteins could be an interesting approach for the treatment of these tumors.

Raymond VM, Everett JN, Furtado LV, et al.
Adrenocortical carcinoma is a lynch syndrome-associated cancer.
J Clin Oncol. 2013; 31(24):3012-8 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 01/03/2016 Related Publications
PURPOSE: Adrenocortical carcinoma (ACC) is an endocrine malignancy with a poor prognosis. The association of adult-onset ACC with inherited cancer predisposition syndromes is poorly understood. Our study sought to define the prevalence of Lynch syndrome (LS) among patients with ACC.
PATIENTS AND METHODS: One hundred fourteen patients with ACC were evaluated in a specialized endocrine oncology clinic and were prospectively offered genetic counseling and clinical genetics risk assessment (group 1). In addition, families with known mismatch repair (MMR) gene mutations that were recorded in the University of Michigan Cancer Genetics Registry were retrospectively reviewed for the presence of ACC (group 2). ACC tumors from patients with LS were tested for microsatellite instability and immunohistochemistry (IHC) to evaluate for MMR deficiency.
RESULTS: Ninety-four (82.5%) of 114 patients with ACC underwent genetic counseling (group 1). Three individuals (3.2%) had family histories suggestive of LS. All three families were found to have MMR gene mutations. Retrospective review of an additional 135 MMR gene-positive probands identified two with ACC (group 2). Four ACC tumors were available (group 1, 3; group 2, 1). All four tumors were microsatellite stable; three had IHC staining patterns consistent with germline mutation status.
CONCLUSION: The prevalence of LS among patients with ACC is 3.2%, which is comparable to the prevalence of LS in colorectal and endometrial cancer. Patients with ACC and a personal or family history of LS tumors should be strongly considered for genetic risk assessment. IHC screening of all ACC tumors may be an effective strategy for identifying patients with LS.

Zhang B, Xu ZW, Wang KH, et al.
Complex regulatory network of microRNAs, transcription factors, gene alterations in adrenocortical cancer.
Asian Pac J Cancer Prev. 2013; 14(4):2265-8 [PubMed] Related Publications
Several lines of evidence indicate that cancer is a multistep process. To survey the mechanisms involving gene alteration and miRNAs in adrenocortical cancer, we focused on transcriptional factors as a point of penetration to build a regulatory network. We derived three level networks: differentially expressed; related; and global. A topology network ws then set up for development of adrenocortical cancer. In this network, we found that some pathways with differentially expressed elements (genetic and miRNA) showed some self-adaption relations, such as EGFR. The differentially expressed elements partially uncovered mechanistic changes for adrenocortical cancer which should guide medical researchers to further achieve pertinent research.

Caramuta S, Lee L, Ozata DM, et al.
Clinical and functional impact of TARBP2 over-expression in adrenocortical carcinoma.
Endocr Relat Cancer. 2013; 20(4):551-64 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 01/03/2016 Related Publications
Deregulation of microRNA (miRNA) expression in adrenocortical carcinomas (ACCs) has been documented to have diagnostic, prognostic, as well as functional implications. Here, we evaluated the mRNA expression of DROSHA, DGCR8, DICER (DICER1), TARBP2, and PRKRA, the core components in the miRNA biogenesis pathway, in a cohort of 73 adrenocortical tumors (including 43 adenomas and 30 carcinomas) and nine normal adrenal cortices using a RT-qPCR approach. Our results show a significant over-expression of TARBP2, DICER, and DROSHA in the carcinomas compared with adenomas or adrenal cortices (P<0.001 for all comparisons). Using western blot and immunohistochemistry analyses, we confirmed the higher expression of TARBP2, DICER, and DROSHA at the protein level in carcinoma cases. Furthermore, we demonstrate that mRNA expression of TARBP2, but not DICER or DROSHA, is a strong molecular predictor to discriminate between adenomas and carcinomas. Functionally, we showed that inhibition of TARBP2 expression in human NCI-H295R ACC cells resulted in a decreased cell proliferation and induction of apoptosis. TARBP2 over-expression was not related to gene mutations; however, copy number gain of the TARBP2 gene was observed in 57% of the carcinomas analyzed. In addition, we identified that miR-195 and miR-497 could directly regulate TARBP2 and DICER expression in ACC cells. This is the first study to demonstrate the deregulation of miRNA-processing factors in adrenocortical tumors and to show the clinical and biological impact of TARBP2 over-expression in this tumor type.

Gaujoux S, Hantel C, Launay P, et al.
Silencing mutated β-catenin inhibits cell proliferation and stimulates apoptosis in the adrenocortical cancer cell line H295R.
PLoS One. 2013; 8(2):e55743 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 01/03/2016 Related Publications
CONTEXT: Adrenocortical carcinoma (ACC) is a rare and highly aggressive endocrine neoplasm, with limited therapeutic options. Activating β-catenin somatic mutations are found in ACC and have been associated with a poor clinical outcome. In fact, activation of the Wnt/β-catenin signaling pathway seems to play a major role in ACC aggressiveness, and might, thus, represent a promising therapeutic target.
OBJECTIVE: Similar to patient tumor specimen the H295 cell line derived from an ACC harbors a natural activating β-catenin mutation. We herein assess the in vitro and in vivo effect of β-catenin inactivation using a doxycyclin (dox) inducible shRNA plasmid in H295R adrenocortical cancer cells line (clone named shβ).
RESULTS: Following dox treatment a profound reduction in β-catenin expression was detectable in shβ clones in comparison to control clones (Ctr). Accordingly, we observed a decrease in Wnt/βcatenin-dependent luciferase reporter activity as well as a decreased expression of AXIN2 representing an endogenous β-catenin target gene. Concomitantly, β-catenin silencing resulted in a decreased cell proliferation, cell cycle alterations with cell accumulation in the G1 phase and increased apoptosis in vitro. In vivo, on established tumor xenografts in athymic nude mice, 9 days of β-catenin silencing resulted in a significant reduction of CTNNB1 and AXIN2 expression. Moreover, continous β-catenin silencing, starting 3 days after tumor cell inoculation, was associated with a complete absence of tumor growth in the shβ group while tumors were present in all animals of the control group.
CONCLUSION: In summary, these experiments provide evidences that Wnt/β-catenin pathway inhibition in ACC is a promising therapeutic target.

Liu-Chittenden Y, Kebebew E
CpG island methylator phenotype in adrenocortical carcinoma: fact or fiction?
J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2013; 98(1):48-50 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 01/03/2016 Related Publications

Recurrent Chromosome Abnormalities

Selected list of common recurrent structural abnormalities

Abnormality Type Gene(s)
11p15 Abnormalities in Adrenocortical CarcinomaDeletion

This is a highly selective list aiming to capture structural abnormalies which are frequesnt and/or significant in relation to diagnosis, prognosis, and/or characterising specific cancers. For a much more extensive list see the Mitelman Database of Chromosome Aberrations and Gene Fusions in Cancer.

11p15 Abnormalities in Adrenocortical Carcinoma

Gicquel C, Raffin-Sanson ML, Gaston V, et al.
Structural and functional abnormalities at 11p15 are associated with the malignant phenotype in sporadic adrenocortical tumors: study on a series of 82 tumors.
J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 1997; 82(8):2559-65 [PubMed] Related Publications
Abnormalities of the 11p15 region with overexpression of the normally imprinted insulin-like growth factor II (IGF-II) gene have been implicated in the pathogenesis of adrenocortical tumors. We evaluated the frequency and distribution of 11p15 loss of heterozygosity (LOH) and IGF-II gene overexpression in a series of 82 sporadic adrenocortical tumors, screened for pathological functional imprinting of the 11p15 region in tumors not exhibiting LOH and evaluated the expression of H19 gene in these tumors. Abnormalities of the 11p15 region as LOH (loss of the maternal allele and duplication of the paternal allele) and/or IGF-II gene overexpression are frequent features of the malignant state and were found in 27 of 29 (93.1%) of the malignant tumors and in only 3 of 35 (8.6%) of the benign tumors. Tumors without abnormality of the 11p15 region (mainly benign tumors) did not exhibit pathological functional imprinting. In tumors with mosaicism for 11p15 LOH, biallelic expression of the IGF-II gene was constant in the tumor cell contingent not undergoing LOH. Abrogation of H19 expression correlated with the loss of the maternal allele (LOH or pathological imprinting), but did not always correlate with overexpression of the IGF-II gene. These data indicate the involvement of dysregulation of the 11p15 region in late steps of adrenocortical tumorigenesis and provide us with new molecular markers for a better diagnostic and prognostic evaluation of adrenocortical tumors.

Gicquel C, Bertagna X, Schneid H, et al.
Rearrangements at the 11p15 locus and overexpression of insulin-like growth factor-II gene in sporadic adrenocortical tumors.
J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 1994; 78(6):1444-53 [PubMed] Related Publications
Little is known about the pathophysiology of sporadic adrenocortical tumors in adults. Because loss of heterozygosity at the 11p15 locus has been described in childhood tumors, particularly, in adrenocortical tumors, associated with the Beckwith-Wiedemann syndrome and because insulin-like growth factor-II (IGF-II) is a crucial regulator of fetal adrenal growth, we looked for structural analysis at the 11p15 locus and IGF-II gene expression in 23 sporadic adrenocortical adult tumors: 6 carcinomas (5 with Cushing's syndrome and 1 nonsecreting) and 17 benign adenomas (13 with Cushing's syndrome, 1 pure androgen secreting, and 3 nonsecreting). Twenty-one patients were informative at the 11p15 locus, and six (four carcinomas and two adenomas) of them (28.5%) exhibited 11p15 structural abnormalities in tumor DNA (five, an uniparental disomy and one, a mosaicism). In a single case that could be further studied, a paternal isodisomy was observed. Very high IGF-II mRNA contents were detected in seven tumors (30%; 5 of the 6 carcinomas and 2 of the 17 adenomas). They were particularly found in tumors with uniparental disomy at the 11p15 locus. Overall, a strong correlation existed between IGF-II mRNA contents and DNA demethylation at the IGF-II locus. These data show that genetic alterations involving the 11p15 locus were highly frequent in malignant tumors, but found only in rare adenomas. These results in combination with evidence for overexpression of IGF-II from the 11p15.5 locus suggest that abnormalities in structure and/or expression of the IGF-II gene play a role as a late event of a multistep process of tumorigenesis.

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