Role of Epac and protein kinase A in thyrotropin-induced gene expression in primary thyrocytes

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cAMP pathway activation by thyrotropin (TSH) induces differentiation and gene expression in thyrocytes. We investigated which partners of the cAMP cascade regulate gene expression modulations: protein kinase A and/or the exchange proteins directly activated by cAMP (Epac). Human primary cultured thyrocytes were analysed by microarrays after treatment with the adenylate cyclase activator forskolin, the protein kinase A (PKA) activator 6-MB-cAMP and the Epac-selective cAMP analog 8-pCPT-2′-O-Me-cAMP (007) alone or combined with 6-MB-cAMP. Profiles were compared to those of TSH. Cultures treated with the adenylate cyclase- or the PKA activator alone or the latter combined with 007 had profiles similar to those induced by TSH. mRNA profiles of 007-treated cultures were highly distinct from TSH-treated cells, suggesting that TSH-modulated gene expressions are mainly modulated by cAMP and PKA and not through Epac in cultured human thyroid cells. To investigate whether the Epac-Rap-RapGAP pathway could play a potential role in thyroid tumorigenesis, the mRNA expressions of its constituent proteins were investigated in two malignant thyroid tumor types. Modulations of this pathway suggest an increased Rap pathway activity in these cancers independent from cAMP activation.

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