Identifying the molecular basis for genotype-phenotype correlations in human diseases has direct implications for understanding the disease process and hence for the identification of potential therapeutic targets. To this end, we performed microarray expression analysis on benign (pheochromocytomas) and malignant (medullary thyroid carcinomas, MTCs) tumors from patients with multiple endocrine neoplasia (MEN) type 2A or 2B, related syndromes that result from distinctive mutations in the RET receptor tyrosine kinase. Comparisons of MEN 2B and MEN 2A MTCs revealed that genes involved in the process of epithelial to mesenchymal transition, many associated with the tumor growth factor β pathway, were up-regulated in MEN 2B MTCs. This MEN 2B MTC profile may explain the early onset of malignancy in MEN 2B compared with MEN 2A patients. Furthermore, chondromodulin-1, a known regulator of cartilage and bone growth, was expressed at high levels specifically in MEN 2B MTCs. Chondromodulin-1 mRNA and protein expression was localized to the malignant C cells, and its high expression was directly associated with the presence of skeletal abnormalities in MEN 2B patients. These findings provide molecular evidence that associate the previously unexplained skeletal abnormalities and early malignancy in MEN 2B compared with MEN 2A syndrome.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3907-3913
Number of pages7
JournalCancer research
Issue number11
StatePublished - Jun 1 2004


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