Purpose:

Thyroid cancer metabolic characteristics vary depending on the molecular subtype determined by mutational status. We aimed to investigate the molecular subtype-specific metabolic characteristics of thyroid cancers.

Experimental Design:

An integrative multi-omics analysis was conducted, incorporating transcriptomics, metabolomics, and proteomics data obtained from human tissues representing distinct molecular characteristics of thyroid cancers: BRAF-like (papillary thyroid cancer with BRAFV600E mutation; PTC-B), RAS-like (follicular thyroid cancer with RAS mutation; FTC-R), and ATC-like (anaplastic thyroid cancer with BRAFV600E or RAS mutation; ATC-B or ATC-R). To validate our findings, we employed tissue microarray of human thyroid cancer tissues and performed in vitro analyses of cancer cell phenotypes and metabolomic assays after inducing genetic knockdown.

Results:

Metabolic properties differed between differentiated thyroid cancers of PTC-B and FTC-R, but were similar in dedifferentiated thyroid cancers of ATC-B/R, regardless of their mutational status. Tricarboxylic acid (TCA) intermediates and branched-chain amino acids (BCAA) were enriched with the activation of TCA cycle only in FTC-R, whereas one-carbon metabolism and pyrimidine metabolism increased in both PTC-B and FTC-R and to a great extent in ATC-B/R. However, the protein expression levels of the BCAA transporter (SLC7A5) and a key enzyme in one-carbon metabolism (SHMT2) increased in all thyroid cancers and were particularly high in ATC-B/R. Knockdown of SLC7A5 or SHMT2 inhibited the migration and proliferation of thyroid cancer cell lines differently, depending on the mutational status.

Conclusions:

These findings define the metabolic properties of each molecular subtype of thyroid cancers and identify metabolic vulnerabilities, providing a rationale for therapies targeting its altered metabolic pathways in advanced thyroid cancer.

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