Cellular retinoic acid-binding protein 2 (CRABP2) participates in retinoid partitioning between different nuclear receptors. Recently, we identified that CRABP2 is one of the progression-associated genes in thyroid cancer. To explore the prognostic and functional significance of CRABP2, immunohistochemical analysis was performed in thyroid tissues and neoplasms. Overexpression of CRABP2 was observed in malignant thyroid neoplasms but not in benign thyroid lesions. CRABP2 expression was an independent predictive factor for recurrence-free survival in patients with differentiated thyroid cancer. Knockdown of CRABP2 reduced the sensitivity of thyroid cancer cells to retinoic acid. Importantly, CRABP2 expression in thyroid cancer cells was associated with epithelial-mesenchymal transition properties, including anoikis resistance, migration, and invasion capacity. Furthermore, invasion promoted by CRABP2 was mediated at least partly by the integrin/focal adhesion kinase/AKT pathway. In summary, CRABP2 expression is upregulated in thyroid cancer with adverse prognostic implications. The invasion-stimulating effects appear independent of canonical retinoic acid signaling and may serve as a potential therapeutic target.
- cellular retinoic acid-binding protein 2
- epithelial-mesenchymal transition
- thyroid cancer