The MAPK/ERK (mitogen-activated protein kinase/extracellular signal- regulated kinase signaling pathway) and PI3K/Akt (lipid kinase phoshoinositide-3-kinase signaling pathway) play an important role in transmission of cell signals through transduction systems as ligands, transmembrane receptors and cytoplasmic secondary messengers to cell nucleus, where they influence the expression of genes that regulate important cellular processes: cell growth, proliferation and apoptosis. The genes, coding the signaling cascade proteins (RET, RAS, BRAF, PI3K, PTEN, AKT), are mutated or aberrantly expressed in thyroid cancer derived from follicular thyroid cell. Genetic and epigenetic alternations, concerning MAPK/ERK and PI3K/Akt signaling pathways, contribute to their activation and interaction in consequence of malignant follicular cell transformation. Moreover, it is additionally pointed out that genetic, as well as epigenetic DNA changing via aberrant methylation of several tumor suppressor and thyroid-specific genes is associated with tumor aggressiveness, being a jointly responsible mechanism for thyroid tumorigenesis. In the present manuscript the currently developed diagnostic and prognostic genetic/epigenetic markers are presented; the understanding of this molecular mechanism provides access to novel molecular therapeutic strategies.
Keywords: AKT, BRAF, PI3K, PTEN, RAS, RET, differentiated thyroid cancer, epigenetic alternations, MAPK/ERK, Diagnostic and Prognostic Markers
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