Phorbol esters increase calcitonin gene transcription and decrease c-myc mRNA levels in cultured human medullary thyroid carcinoma

A. de Bustros, S. B. Baylin, C. L. Berger, B. A. Roos, S. S. Leong, B. D. Nelkin

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Medullary thyroid carcinoma is a tumor of the calcitonin-secreting thyroid C-cell, with a variable malignant potential. Virulent tumors are characterized by decreased calcitonin production, suggesting the emergence of a less differentiated medullary thyroid carcinoma cell. In order to further delineate relationships between tumor progression and status of differentiation of medullary thyroid carcinoma cells, we have sought to chemically manipulate the TT cell line, an established culture of human medullary thyroid carcinoma, derived from a patient with aggressive disease. We found that the phorbol esters, 12-O-tetradecanoyl phorbol 13-acetate and phorbol 12,13-dibutyrate 1) altered the morphology of the TT cells towards that of high-calcitonin-containing cells; 2) enhanced calcitonin secretion 7-fold; 3) increased calcitonin production at the transcriptional level by 2-fold; 4) inhibited cellular proliferation; and 5) decreased, by 80%, the levels of the c-myc gene mRNA. These data suggest that phorbol ester induce, in human medullary thyroid carcinoma cells in culture, a programmed pattern of events resulting in differentiation of these cells.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)98-104
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Biological Chemistry
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1985


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry

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