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S Lisi, A Pinchera, RT McCluskey, L Chiovato and M Marino

OBJECTIVE: Binding of thyroglobulin (Tg) to heparin allows efficient Tg interaction with its endocytic receptor, megalin. Rat Tg (rTg) binds to heparin using an exposed carboxyl terminal region (RELPSRRLKRPLPVK, Arg2489-Lys2503) rich in positively charged residues which is, however, not entirely conserved in human Tg (hTg) (Arg2489-Glu2503, REPPARALKRSLWVE). Here, we investigated whether and how this difference affects binding of heparin. DESIGN: To compare binding of heparin to rTg and hTg. To investigate the role of the sequence 2489-2503 using a peptide-based approach. METHODS: Binding of biotin-labeled heparin to rTg, hTg and to Tg peptides was measured in solid phase assays. RESULTS: Heparin bound to rTg with moderately high affinity (K(d): 34.2 nmol/l, K(i): 37.6 nmol/l) and to hTg with lower affinity (K(d): 118 nmol/l, K(i): 480 nmol/l) and to a lower extent. Binding was dose-dependent and saturable, and was reduced by several specific competitors (Tg itself, unlabeled heparin, lactoferrin). Heparin bound to synthetic peptides corresponding to the rat (rTgP) and to the human (hTgP) Tg sequence 2489-2503. Heparin bound to rTgP to a greater extent and with greater affinity than to hTgP. An antibody against hTgP reduced binding of heparin to intact hTg by 30%, suggesting that in hTg this region is, in part, involved in heparin binding, but also that other regions account for most of the binding. Starting from the sequence of rTgP, we designed 6 synthetic 'mutant' peptides by replacing one amino acid residue of rTgP with the corresponding residue of the sequence of hTgP. Heparin bound to 5 of 6 mutant peptides to a lower extent and with lower affinity than to rTgP. CONCLUSIONS: In spite of a reduced binding ability of the sequence 2489-2503, hTg binds to heparin, in part, using alternative, as yet unidentified, binding sites. Substitution of both positive and neutral residues within the sequence 2489-2503 reduced heparin-binding, suggesting that not only charge, but also sequence and/or conformation, may account for the heparin-binding ability of this region of Tg.

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M Marino, L Chiovato, S Lisi, A Pinchera and RT McCluskey

BACKGROUND: Phosphoinositide 3-kinase (PI3-K) is implicated in various cellular processes involving signaling, including intracellular trafficking. PI3-K has been shown to play a part in both receptor- and non-receptor-mediated transcytosis across cultured kidney cells and undifferentiated thyroid cells. OBJECTIVE: To investigate the role of PI3-K in transcytosis of thyroglobulin (Tg) across differentiated cultured Fisher rat thyroid cells (FRTL-5 cells) - a process known to be mediated by megalin, a member of the low-density lipoprotein receptor family. DESIGN: We studied the effect of the microbial product wortmannin, a specific inhibitor of PI3-K, on transcytosis of Tg across FRTL-5 cells. METHODS: Transcytosis experiments were performed using FRTL-5 cells cultured as tight layers on filters in the upper chamber of dual chambered devices, with megalin expression exclusively on the upper cell surface. Tg was added to the upper chamber and cells were incubated at 37 degrees C. Transcytosed Tg was measured in fluids collected from the lower chamber. To study the role of PI3-K, cells were pre-incubated with wortmannin. RESULTS: Pre-incubation of FRTL-5 cells with wortmannin did not affect Tg binding and uptake, but resulted in a considerable increase in Tg transcytosis (by 40-75%, depending on the concentration of wortmannin), suggesting that PI3-K exerts an inhibitory effect on Tg transcytosis. In experiments in which a monoclonal antibody against megalin was used to reduce Tg transcytosis, pre-incubation with wortmannin did not increase Tg transcytosis from its reduced levels, indicating that PI3-K is involved in the megalin-mediated pathway. Wortmannin did not affect the extent of release of tri-iodothyronine from exogenously added Tg by FRTL-5 cells, which was used as a measure of Tg degradation in the lysosomal pathway, indicating that the effect of PI3-K on transcytosis occurs after diversion of Tg from the lysosomal pathway. CONCLUSIONS: PI3-K exerts an inhibitory role on megalin-mediated Tg transcytosis across cultured thyroid cells. PI3-K action takes place at a post-sorting level, after Tg bypassing of the lysosomal pathway.

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E Puxeddu, S Moretti, A Giannico, M Martinelli, C Marino, N Avenia, R Cristofani, R Farabi, G Reboldi, R Ribacchi, A Pontecorvi and F Santeusanio

OBJECTIVE: RET proto-oncogene rearrangements (ret/PTCs) represent the most common genetic alterations found in papillary thyroid carcinomas (PTCs). Correlation of ret/PTC expression with clinical outcome is controversial. The aim of the present study was to analyze the frequency of RET rearrangements in adult PTCs, and to investigate if ret/PTCs influence biological behavior and clinical features of the cancers. DESIGN: Ret/PTC rearrangements were looked for in tIssue samples of 48 PTCs collected at our institution. Data about clinical and pathological features of the tumors were also reviewed. Three separate association analyses were carried out on the cohort evaluating the effects of, respectively, ret/PTC positivity, preferential RET tyrosine kinase domain (RET-TK) expression, and ret/PTC plus RET-TK positivity, on age, sex, tumor size, staging, number of neoplastic foci, and histological subtype. METHODS: The genetic study was conducted with the RT-PCR-Southern blot technique. Standard Student's t-test and Fisher exact test were applied for the association analyses. RESULTS: The molecular genetic study demonstrated the positivity of ret/PTC1 and ret/PTC3 in 13 of 48 tumors (27.1%), and an exclusive or preferential RET-TK expression in 17 cases (35.4%). None of the three genetico-clinical analyses showed any significant association between ret/PTC expression and the clinical and pathological features of the cancers. CONCLUSIONS: These data indicate that RET rearrangements may not play any distinctive role in driving histotype development and cancer progression in these neoplasms. Moreover, they weaken the possibility of using ret/PTC as a prognostic marker for papillary thyroid carcinomas.

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Renata C Scalco, Vivian Hwa, Horacio M Domené, Héctor G Jasper, Alicia Belgorosky, Roxana Marino, Alberto M Pereira, Carlos A Tonelli, Jan M Wit, Ron G Rosenfeld and Alexander A L Jorge

Context and objective

GH insensitivity with immune dysfunction caused by STAT5B mutations is an autosomal recessive condition. Heterozygous mutations in other genes involved in growth regulation were previously associated with a mild height reduction. Our objective was to assess for the first time the phenotype of heterozygous STAT5B mutations.

Methods

We genotyped and performed clinical and laboratory evaluations in 52 relatives of two previously described Brazilian brothers with homozygous STAT5B c.424_427del mutation (21 heterozygous). Additionally, we obtained height data and genotype from 1104 adult control individuals from the same region in Brazil and identified five additional families harboring the same mutation (18 individuals, 11 heterozygous). Furthermore, we gathered the available height data from first-degree relatives of patients with homozygous STAT5B mutations (17 individuals from seven families). Data from heterozygous individuals and non-carriers were compared.

Results

Individuals carrying heterozygous STAT5B c.424_427del mutation were 0.6 SDS shorter than their non-carrier relatives (P=0.009). Heterozygous subjects also had significantly lower SDS for serum concentrations of IGF1 (P=0.028) and IGFBP3 (P=0.02) than their non-carrier relatives. The 17 heterozygous first-degree relatives of patients carrying homozygous STAT5B mutations had an average height SDS of −1.4±0.8 when compared with population-matched controls (P< 0.001).

Conclusions

STAT5B mutations in the heterozygous state have a significant negative impact on height (∼3.9 cm). This effect is milder than the effect seen in the homozygous state, with height usually within the normal range. Our results support the hypothesis that heterozygosity of rare pathogenic variants contributes to normal height heritability.

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W M Wiersinga, P Perros, G J Kahaly, M P Mourits, L Baldeschi, K Boboridis, A Boschi, A J Dickinson, P Kendall-Taylor, G E Krassas, C M Lane, J H Lazarus, C Marcocci, M Marino, M Nardi, C Neoh, J Orgiazzi, A Pinchera, S Pitz, M F Prummel, M S Sartini, M Stahl and G von Arx

Group-author : The European Group on Graves’ Orbitopathy (EUGOGO)

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P Perros, L Baldeschi, K Boboridis, A J Dickinson, A Hullo, G J Kahaly, P Kendall-Taylor, G E Krassas, C M Lane, J H Lazarus, C Marcocci, M Marino, M P Mourits, M Nardi, J Orgiazzi, A Pinchera, S Pitz, M F Prummel and W M Wiersinga

Group-author : The European Group of Graves’ Orbitopathy

Objective: To determine management patterns among clinicians who treat patients with Graves’ orbitopathy (GO) in Europe.

Design and methods: Questionnaire survey including a case scenario of members of professional organisations representing endocrinologists, ophthalmologists and nuclear medicine physicians.

Results: A multidisciplinary approach to manage GO was valued by 96.3% of responders, although 31.5% did not participate or refer to a multidisciplinary team and 21.5% of patients with GO treated by responders were not managed in a multidisciplinary setting. Access to surgery for sight-threatening GO was available only within weeks or months according to 59.5% of responders. Reluctance to refer urgently to an ophthalmologist was noted by 32.7% of responders despite the presence of suspected optic neuropathy. The use of steroids was not influenced by the age of the patient, but fewer responders chose to use steroids in a diabetic patient (72.1 vs 90.5%, P < 0.001). Development of cushingoid features resulted in a reduction in steroid use (90.5 vs 36.5%, P < 0.001) and increase in the use of orbital irradiation (from 23.8% to 40.4%, P < 0.05) and surgical decompression (from 20.9 to 52.9%, P < 0.001). More ophthalmologists chose surgical decompression for patients with threatened vision due to optic neuropathy, who were intolerant to steroids than other specialists (70.3 vs 41.8%, P < 0.01).

Conclusion: Deficiencies in the management of patients with GO in Europe were identified by this survey. Further training of clinicians, easier access of patients to specialist multidisciplinary centres and the publication of practice guidelines may help improve the management of this condition in Europe.

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Luigi Bartalena, Lelio Baldeschi, Alison Dickinson, Anja Eckstein, Pat Kendall-Taylor, Claudio Marcocci, Maarten Mourits, Petros Perros, Kostas Boboridis, Antonella Boschi, Nicola Currò, Chantal Daumerie, George J Kahaly, Gerasimos E Krassas, Carol M Lane, John H Lazarus, Michele Marinò, Marco Nardi, Christopher Neoh, Jacques Orgiazzi, Simon Pearce, Aldo Pinchera, Susanne Pitz, Mario Salvi, Paolo Sivelli, Matthias Stahl, Georg von Arx and Wilmar M Wiersinga