The inactivation of the tumor-suppressor homeodomain-only protein X (HOPX) usually involves promoter methylation in several cancer types. This study aimed to investigate the HOPX-β mRNA expression and promoter methylation and their clinical relevance in differentiated thyroid cancer (DTC).
Clinicopathological data and paraffin-embedded thyroid tumor tissues from 21 patients with DTC and 6 with benign tumors (T) and their non-tumor parenchyma (NT) were investigated. Tumor cell lines (FTC238, FTC236 and WRO) were treated with demethylating agent. HOPX-β mRNA expression was assessed by qRT-PCR and methylation status by Q-MSP. Thyroid cancer data from Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA) was also collected.
HOPX-β mRNA re-expression in two cell lines treated with demethylating agent was observed concomitantly with reduced promoter methylation. Reduced mRNA expression in T group compared to their NT was observed, and reduced protein expression in T compared to NT was observed in three cases. Low mRNA expression with high methylation status was detected in 6/14 DTC samples. High methylation status was associated with older age at diagnosis, recurrent or progressive disease and with the presence of new neoplasm event post initial therapy while hyper-methylation correlated with worse overall survival, worse disease-free status and older age.