Mechanisms of Disease: Multiple endocrine neoplasia type 1 - Relation to chromatin modifications and transcription regulation

K. M A Dreijerink, J. W M Höppener, H. T M Timmers, C. J M Lips

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Multiple endocrine neoplasia type 1 (MEN1) is a hereditary tumor syndrome characterized by tumors of the parathyroid glands, the pancreatic islets, the pituitary gland, the adrenal glands, as well as by neuroendocrine carcinoid tumors, often at a young age. Causal to the syndrome are germline mutations of the MEN1 tumor-suppressor gene. Identification of gene-mutation carriers has enabled presymptomatic diagnosis and treatment of MEN1-related lesions. The product of the MEN1 gene is the nuclear protein menin. Recent observations indicate several functions for menin in the regulation of transcription, serving either as a repressor or as an activator: menin interacts with the activator-protein-1-family transcription factor JunD, changing it from an oncoprotein into a tumor-suppressor protein, putatively by recruitment of histone deacetylase complexes; menin maintains transforming growth factor β mediated signal transduction involved in parathyroid hormone and prolactin gene expression; and menin is an integral component of histone methyltransferase complexes. In this capacity menin is a regulator of expression of the cyclin-dependent-kinase inhibitors p18INK4C and p27Kip1; furthermore, menin serves as a co-activator of estrogen receptor mediated transcription, by recruiting methyltransferase activity to lysine 4 of histone 3 at the estrogen responsive TFF1(pS2) gene promoter. We propose that menin links transcription-factor function to histone-modification pathways and that this is crucial for MEN1 tumorigenesis. Understanding the molecular pathology of MEN1 tumorigenesis will lead to new therapeutic strategies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)562-570
Number of pages9
JournalNature Clinical Practice Endocrinology and Metabolism
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2006


  • Gene transcription
  • Histone modification
  • Menin
  • Multiple endocrine neoplasia type 1 (MEN1)
  • Tumorigenesis

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