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.


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.


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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