Recently, activating mutations of the hypoxia-inducible factor 2α gene (HIF2A/EPAS1) have been recognized to predispose to multiple paragangliomas (PGLs) and duodenal somatostatinomas associated with polycythemia, and ocular abnormalities. Previously, mutations in the SDHA/B/C/D, SDHAF2, VHL, FH, PHD1, and PHD2 genes have been associated with HIF activation and the development of pseudohypoxic (cluster-1) PGLs. These tumors overlap in terms of tumor location, syndromic presentation, and noradrenergic phenotype to a certain extent. However, they also differ especially by clinical outcome and by presence of other tumors or abnormalities. In the present study, we aimed to establish additional molecular differences between HIF2A and non-HIF2A pseudohypoxic PGLs. RNA expression patterns of HIF2A PGLs (n = 6) from 2 patients were compared with normal adrenal medullas (n = 8) and other hereditary pseudohypoxic PGLs (VHL: n = 13, SDHB: n = 15, and SDHD: n = 14). Unsupervised hierarchical clustering showed that HIF2A PGLs made up a separate cluster from other pseudohypoxic PGLs. Significance analysis of microarray yielded 875 differentially expressed genes between HIF2A and other pseudohypoxic PGLs after normalization to adrenal medulla (false discovery rate 0.01). Prediction analysis of microarray allowed correct classification of all HIF2A samples based on as little as three genes (TRHDE, LRRC63, IGSF10; error rate: 0.02). Genes with the highest expression difference between normal medulla and HIF2A PGLs were selected for confirmatory quantitative reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction. In conclusion, HIF2A PGLs show a characteristic expression signature that separates them from non-HIF2A pseudohypoxic PGLs. Unexpectedly, the most significantly differentially expressed genes have not been previously described as HIF target genes.
Research Areas and Centers
- Academic Focus: Center for Brain, Behavior and Metabolism (CBBM)