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This article has been peer reviewed. It is the authors' final version prior to publication in Journal of Biological Chemistry. Volume 287, Issue 6, 3 February 2012, Pages 3691-3703. The published version is available at DOI: 10.1074/jbc.M111.322677. Copyright © The American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology


Thyroid carcinomas that harbor RET/PTC oncogenes are well differentiated, relatively benign neoplasms compared with those expressing oncogenic RAS or BRAF mutations despite signaling through shared transforming pathways. A distinction, however, is that RET/PTCs induce immunostimulatory programs, suggesting that, in the case of this tumor type, the additional pro-inflammatory pathway reduces aggressiveness. Here, we demonstrate that pro-inflammatory programs are selectively activated by TRAF2 and TRAF6 association with RET/PTC oncoproteins. Eliminating this mechanism reduces pro-inflammatory cytokine production without decreasing transformation efficiency. Conversely, ablating MEK/ERK or PI3K/AKT signaling eliminates transformation but not pro-inflammatory cytokine secretion. Functional uncoupling of the two pathways demonstrates that intrinsic pro-inflammatory pathways are not required for cellular transformation and suggests a need for further investigation into the role inflammation plays in thyroid tumor progression.