Persistent cellular proliferation and metabolic reprogramming are essential processes in carcinogenesis. Here, we performed Gene Set Enrichment Analysis (GSEA) and found that that LETM1, a mitochondrial calcium transporter, is associated with cellular growth signals such as platelet-derived growth factor (PDGF) receptor signaling and insulin signaling pathways. These results were then verified by qRTPCR and immnunoblotting. Mechanistically, up-regulation of LETM1 induced YAP1 nuclear accumulation, increasing the expression of PDGFB, PDGFRB and THBS4. Consistent with this, LETM1 silencing caused loss of YAP1 nuclear signal, decreasing the expression of PDGFB, PDGFRB and THBS4. Immunohistochemical staining consistently indicated a positive association between LETM1 up-regulation, YAP1 nuclear localization and high PDGFB expression. In clinical data analysis, LETM1 upregulation in thyroid cancer was found to be related to aggressive tumor features such as lymphovascular invasion (LVI, P < 0.001) and lymph node metastasis (LNM, P = 0.011). Multivariate analysis demonstrated that LETM1 up-regulation increases the risk of LVI and LNM (OR = 3.455, 95% CI = 1.537-7.766 and OR = 3.043, 95% CI = 1.282-7.225, respectively). Collectively, these data suggest that up-regulation of LETM1 induces sustained activation of proliferative signaling pathways, such as PDGF signal pathway by AKT induced YAP1 transactivation, resulting in aggressive thyroid cancer phenotypes.
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