Significance of the BRAF mRNA expression level in papillary thyroid carcinoma: An analysis of the cancer genome atlas data

Young Jun Chai, Jin Wook Yi, Hyeon Gun Jee, Young A. Kim, Ju Han Kim, Mingzhao Xing, Kyu Eun Lee

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9 Scopus citations


Background BRAFV600E is the most common mutation in papillary thyroid carcinoma (PTC), and it is associated with high-risk prognostic factors. However, the significance of the BRAF mRNA level in PTC remains unknown. We evaluated the significance of BRAF mRNA expression level by analyzing PTC data from The Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA) database. Methods Data from 499 patients were downloaded from the TCGA database. After excluding other PTC variants, we selected 353 cases of classic PTC, including 193 cases with BRAFV600E and 160 cases with the wild-type BRAF. mRNA abundances were measured using RNA-Seq with the Expectation Maximization algorithm. Results The mean BRAF mRNA level was significantly higher in BRAFV600E patients than in patients with wild-type BRAF (197.6 vs. 179.3, p = 0.031). In wild-type BRAF patients, the mean BRAF mRNA level was higher in cases with a tumor > 2 cm than those with a tumor ô 2.0 cm (189.4 vs. 163.8, p=0.046), and was also higher in cases with lymph node metastasis than in those without lymph node metastasis (188.5 vs. 157.9, p=0.040). Within BRAFV600E patients, higher BRAF mRNA expression was associated with extrathyroidal extension (186.4 vs. 216.4, p=0.001) and higher T stage (188.1 vs. 210.2, p=0.016). Conclusions A higher BRAF mRNA expression level was associated with tumor aggressiveness in classic PTC regardless of BRAF mutational status. Evaluation of BRAF mRNA level may be helpful in prognostic risk stratification of PTC.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere0159235
JournalPloS one
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2016

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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