Molecular mechanisms underlying the pathogenesis and progression of malignant thyroid cancers, such as follicular thyroid carcinomas (FTCs), and how these differ from benign thyroid lesions, are poorly understood. In this study, we employed network-based integrative analyses of FTC and benign follicular thyroid adenoma (FTA) lesion transcriptomes to identify key genes and pathways that differ between them. We first analysed a microarray gene expression dataset (Gene Expression Omnibus GSE82208, n = 52) obtained from FTC and FTA tissues to identify differentially expressed genes (DEGs). Pathway analyses of these DEGs were then performed using Gene Ontology (GO) and Kyoto Encyclopedia of Genes and Genomes (KEGG) resources to identify potentially important pathways, and protein-protein interactions (PPIs) were examined to identify pathway hub genes. Our data analysis identified 598 DEGs, 133 genes with higher and 465 genes with lower expression in FTCs. We identified four significant pathways (one carbon pool by folate, p53 signalling, progesterone-mediated oocyte maturation signalling, and cell cycle pathways) connected to DEGs with high FTC expression; eight pathways were connected to DEGs with lower relative FTC expression. Ten GO groups were significantly connected with FTC-high expression DEGs and 80 with low-FTC expression DEGs. PPI analysis then identified 12 potential hub genes based on degree and betweenness centrality; namely, TOP2A, JUN, EGFR, CDK1, FOS, CDKN3, EZH2, TYMS, PBK, CDH1, UBE2C, and CCNB2. Moreover, transcription factors (TFs) were identified that may underlie gene expression differences observed between FTC and FTA, including FOXC1, GATA2, YY1, FOXL1, E2F1, NFIC, SRF, TFAP2A, HINFP, and CREB1. We also identified microRNA (miRNAs) that may also affect transcript levels of DEGs; these included hsa-mir-335-5p,-26b-5p,-124-3p,-16-5p,-192-5p,-1-3p,-17-5p,-92a-3p,-215-5p, and-20a-5p. Thus, our study identified DEGs, molecular pathways, TFs, and miRNAs that reflect molecular mechanisms that differ between FTC and benign FTA. Given the general similarities of these lesions and common tissue origin, some of these differences may reflect malignant progression potential, and include useful candidate biomarkers for FTC and identifying factors important for FTC pathogenesis.
|Journal||International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health|
|Publication status||Published - 20 Feb 2020|