Long non-coding RNAs (lncRNAs) are important for transcription and for epigenetic or posttranscriptional regulation of gene expression and may contribute to carcinogenesis. Metastasis-associated lung adenocarcinoma transcript 1 (MALAT1), an lncRNA involved in the regulation of the cell cycle, cell proliferation, and cell migration, is known to be deregulated in multiple cancers. Here, researchers from the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health analyzed the expression of MALAT1 on 195 cases of benign and malignant thyroid neoplasms by using tissue microarrays for RNA in situ hybridization (ISH) and real-time PCR. MALAT1 is highly expressed in normal thyroid (NT) tissues and thyroid tumors, with increased expression during progression from NT to papillary thyroid carcinomas (PTCs) but is downregulated in poorly differentiated thyroid cancers (PDCs) and anaplastic thyroid carcinomas (ATCs) compared to NT. Induction of epithelial to mesenchymal transition (EMT) by transforming growth factor (TGF)-beta in a PTC cell line (TPC1) led to increased MALAT1 expression, supporting a role for MALAT1 in EMT in thyroid tumors. This is the first ISH study of MALAT1 expression in thyroid tissues. It also provides the first piece of evidence suggesting MALAT1 downregulation in certain thyroid malignancies. These findings support the notion that ATCs may be molecularly distinct from low-grade thyroid malignancies and suggest that MALAT1 may function both as an oncogene and as a tumor suppressor in different types of thyroid tumors.
Representative ISH images of MALAT1 on TMA
a Normal thyroid tissue (NT). b Follicular variant of papillary thyroid carcinoma (FV). c Conventional papillary thyroid carcinoma (cPTC). d Anaplastic thyroid carcinoma (ATC). Insets show low-power view of corresponding TMA cores