Gene Summary

Gene:RET; ret proto-oncogene
Aliases: PTC, MTC1, HSCR1, MEN2A, MEN2B, RET51, CDHF12, CDHR16, RET-ELE1
Summary:This gene, a member of the cadherin superfamily, encodes one of the receptor tyrosine kinases, which are cell-surface molecules that transduce signals for cell growth and differentiation. This gene plays a crucial role in neural crest development, and it can undergo oncogenic activation in vivo and in vitro by cytogenetic rearrangement. Mutations in this gene are associated with the disorders multiple endocrine neoplasia, type IIA, multiple endocrine neoplasia, type IIB, Hirschsprung disease, and medullary thyroid carcinoma. Two transcript variants encoding different isoforms have been found for this gene. Additional transcript variants have been described but their biological validity has not been confirmed. [provided by RefSeq, Jul 2008]
Databases:OMIM, VEGA, HGNC, Ensembl, GeneCard, Gene
Protein:proto-oncogene tyrosine-protein kinase receptor Ret
Source:NCBIAccessed: 27 February, 2015


What does this gene/protein do?
Show (33)

Cancer Overview

Research Indicators

Publications Per Year (1990-2015)
Graph generated 27 February 2015 using data from PubMed using criteria.

Literature Analysis

Mouse over the terms for more detail; many indicate links which you can click for dedicated pages about the topic.

Tag cloud generated 27 February, 2015 using data from PubMed, MeSH and CancerIndex

Specific Cancers (14)

Data table showing topics related to specific cancers and associated disorders. Scope includes mutations and abnormal protein expression.

Entity Topic PubMed Papers
Multiple Endocrine Neoplasia Type 2aRET mutations in Multiple Endocrine Neoplasia - type 2A View Publications618
Pheochromocytoma and ParagangliomaRET and Pheochromocytoma and Paraganglioma View Publications348
Adrenocortical CancerRET and Adrenocortical Cancer View Publications277
Thyroid CancerRET mutations in Familial Medullary Thyroid Carcinoma View Publications261
Multiple Endocrine Neoplasia Type 2bRET mutations in Multiple Endocrine Neoplasia Type 2b View Publications235
Thyroid CancerRET-PTC1 Rearangements in Papillary Thyroid Cancer
The PTC1 fusion gene is present in approximately 30% of papillary thyroid carcinomas. It involves an inversion of 10q which fuses the RET protooncogene to the D10S170 (H4) gene. High incidence of RET/PTC1 rearrangements have been reported in thyroid cancers in people living in areas adjacent to Chernobyl following the nuclear accident. SCID mice transplanted with normal human thyroid tissues and then exposed to radiation preferentially developed RET/PTC1 compared to other RET rearrangements (Mizuno,2000). A FISH study (Nikiforova, 2000) suggests that RET and PTC1 are more frequently juxtaposed in the nucleus of thyroid cells compared to other cells. This close proximity of the genes in thyroid cells may promote the PTC1 fusion since a single radiation track may be sufficient to produce a double-strand break in each gene at the same site in the nucleus.
View Publications216
Thyroid CancerRET-PTC3 (RET-ELE1) Rearangements in Papillary Thyroid Cancer
The RET gene is frequently involved in structural rearrangements with either PCT1 (CCDC6) or PCT3 (NCOA4), resulting in chimeric fusion proteins which are characteristic of Papillary Thyroid Cancer. Detection of this may aid differential diagnosis of papillary vs. follicular thyroid cancer.
View Publications148
Lung CancerRET and Lung Cancer View Publications95
Thyroid CancerRET Rearrangements Following Exposure to Ionizing Radiation View Publications62
Thyroid CancerRET-NTRK1 Rearangements in Papillary Thyroid Cancer View Publications36
Lung Cancer, Non-Small CellRET and Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer View Publications36
Lung CancerRET-KIF5B fusion in Adenocarcinoma Lung Cancer View Publications22
Thyroid Cancert(8,10) RET-HOOK Reaarangements in Papillary Thyroid Cancer View Publications2

Note: list is not exhaustive. Number of papers are based on searches of PubMed (click on topic title for arbitrary criteria used).

Latest Publications: RET (cancer-related)

Carter CA, Nations JA, Lazarus A
Molecular targets in the treatment of non-small-cell lung cancer: is there hope on the horizon?
Postgrad Med. 2014; 126(7):139-48 [PubMed] Related Publications
Non-small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC) is a growing concern worldwide, and its incidence continues to increase in developing countries. It has a strong association with smoking. Lung cancer remains the leading cause of cancer-related deaths in most industrialized countries and in the United States. In the last 10 years, there have been significant advancements in the understanding of molecular oncogenes and how they play a role in driving lung cancer to both grow and metastasize. Understanding this rapidly expanding field has the potential to extend life, and it is an important field for all providers to conceptualize if they are treating patients with lung cancer. Currently, > 50% of all NSCLC is linked to 1 of several known genetic driver mutations. Using online databases, expert opinion, and practice-changing trials, we review the current standards of molecular testing of NSCLC and the expanding evidence of oncogenic drivers in nonsquamous NSCLC.

Bai Y, Kim JY, Watters JM, et al.
Adaptive responses to dasatinib-treated lung squamous cell cancer cells harboring DDR2 mutations.
Cancer Res. 2014; 74(24):7217-28 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 15/12/2015 Related Publications
DDR2 mutations occur in approximately 4% of lung squamous cell cancer (SCC) where the tyrosine kinase inhibitor dasatinib has emerged as a new therapeutic option. We found that ERK and AKT phosphorylation was weakly inhibited by dasatinib in DDR2-mutant lung SCC cells, suggesting that dasatinib inhibits survival signals distinct from other oncogenic receptor tyrosine kinases (RTK) and/or compensatory signals exist that dampen dasatinib activity. To gain better insight into dasatinib's action in these cells, we assessed altered global tyrosine phosphorylation (pY) after dasatinib exposure using a mass spectrometry-based quantitative phosphoproteomics approach. Overlaying protein-protein interaction relationships upon this dasatinib-regulated pY network revealed decreased phosphorylation of Src family kinases and their targets. Conversely, dasatinib enhanced tyrosine phosphorylation in a panel of RTK and their signaling adaptor complexes, including EGFR, MET/GAB1, and IGF1R/IRS2, implicating a RTK-driven adaptive response associated with dasatinib. To address the significance of this observation, these results were further integrated with results from a small-molecule chemical library screen. We found that dasatinib combined with MET and insulin-like growth factor receptor (IGF1R) inhibitors had a synergistic effect, and ligand stimulation of EGFR and MET rescued DDR2-mutant lung SCC cells from dasatinib-induced loss of cell viability. Importantly, we observed high levels of tyrosine-phosphorylated EGFR and MET in a panel of human lung SCC tissues harboring DDR2 mutations. Our results highlight potential RTK-driven adaptive-resistant mechanisms upon DDR2 targeting, and they suggest new, rationale cotargeting strategies for DDR2-mutant lung SCC.

Yamazaki M, Hanamura T, Ito K, et al.
A newly identified missense mutation in RET codon 666 is associated with the development of medullary thyroid carcinoma.
Endocr J. 2014; 61(11):1141-4 [PubMed] Related Publications
A 38-year-old woman with a thyroid nodule measuring approximately 2 cm was suspected to have medullary thyroid carcinoma (MTC) because of markedly elevated serum calcitonin and carcinoembryonic antigen levels. There were no signs of pheochromocytoma, whereas primary hyperparathyroidism was suspected based on the findings of inappropriate hypersecretion of parathyroid hormone although no parathyroid tumor was detected with imaging studies. RET mutation analysis revealed a novel germline missense mutation in codon 666, c.1997A>G (p.K666R). She underwent total thyroidectomy with lymphadenectomy and simultaneous total parathyroidectomy with autotransplantation of parathyroid tissue. She was given calcium lactate and alfacalcidol to prevent postoperative hypocalcemia. Pathological findings of the thyroid tumor were compatible with MTC, but the resected parathyroid glands were intact. To our knowledge, c.1997A>G (p.K666R) is a new RET mutation. This is a minor variant, but it is significant because of the possible pathogenicity in tumor formation. It is often difficult to determine whether MTC is generated as part of MEN2-related disease or familial MTC when it is a unique manifestation. In addition, it is still unclear whether all missense mutations in this codon reported previously will lead to the same clinical course and prognosis. Further careful observations of clinical presentation are required to determine the clinical features associated with this variant.

Pennelli G, Galuppini F, Barollo S, et al.
The PDCD4/miR-21 pathway in medullary thyroid carcinoma.
Hum Pathol. 2015; 46(1):50-7 [PubMed] Related Publications
Programmed cell death 4 (PDCD4) is a tumor suppressor gene involved in tumorogenesis. MicroRNA-21 (miR-21) specifically targets PDCD4, and recent studies suggest that PDCD4 is also regulated by Akt (antiapoptotic regulator within phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase). Medullary thyroid carcinoma (MTC) is a rare neuroendocrine cancer, and disease stage at diagnosis represents the main prognostic indicator. A consecutive series of 64 MTCs was considered. REarranged during Transfection (RET) and rat sarcoma (RAS) mutation status was assessed by direct sequencing. Quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction was used to quantify mature hsa-miR-21. PDCD4 and Ki-67 immunostaining was performed with an automated platform. Immunoblot analysis of PI3K/Akt pathway was done on thyroid tissues. MTCs were consistently associated with miR-21 up-regulation (P < .0016) and featured significant PDCD4 nuclear down-regulation. An inverse correlation emerged between miR-21 overexpression and PDCD4 down-regulation (P = .0013). At enrollment, high miR-21 levels were associated with high calcitonin levels (P = .0003), lymph node metastases (P = .001), and advanced stages (P = .0003). At the end of follow-up, high miR-21 levels were associated with biochemically persistent disease (P = .0076). At enrollment, instead, PDCD4 nuclear down-regulation was associated with high calcitonin levels (P = .04), more advanced stages of disease (P < .01), and persistent disease after the follow-up (P = .02). p-Akt was more expressed in RAS-mutated MTC than in nonmutated cancers and normal tissue. This study showed, in MTCs, that miR-21 regulates PDCD4 expression and also that the miR-21/PDCD4 pathway correlates with clinicopathological variables and prognosis. Further studies should investigate the role of miR-21 as a prognostic biomarker and the feasibility of using PDCD4-restoring strategies as a therapeutic approach to MTC.

Yang HS, Horten B
Gain of copy number and amplification of the RET gene in lung cancer.
Exp Mol Pathol. 2014; 97(3):465-9 [PubMed] Related Publications
RET rearrangement represents a unique molecular subset of lung cancer. The identification of specific clinicopathologic characteristics and RET gene status would provide critical information on targeted therapeutics. In this study, we investigated the patterns of RET gene in a series of lung carcinomas. Of one hundred and sixteen tumors, a low frequency (1.7%) of RET translocation was identified. Only two specimens of lung adenocarcinomas displayed the rearrangement of RET in 54% and 78% of tumor cells respectively. A high incidence of gain of copy number (3-4 copies) and amplification (≥ 5 copies) of the RET gene was observed in 52% and 12% of all 116 samples. An association between increased copy number of RET and EGFR mutation was statistically significant (p < 0.05) in these lung carcinomas. This study sheds light on the unique molecular characteristics of the RET gene in lung carcinomas.

Lyra J, Vinagre J, Batista R, et al.
mTOR activation in medullary thyroid carcinoma with RAS mutation.
Eur J Endocrinol. 2014; 171(5):633-40 [PubMed] Related Publications
OBJECTIVE: Rearranged during transfection (RET) mutations are well-known genetic events in sporadic and familial medullary thyroid carcinoma (FMTC). The presence of RAS mutations in sporadic cases, challenging the RET paradigm in these tumors, has been recently reported. We intend to evaluate mTOR pathway activation in RET- and RAS-mutated MTC.
MATERIALS AND METHODS: In this study, we analysed the presence of RET, H-RAS, and K-RAS mutations in a series of 87 MTCs (82 apparently sporadic and five FMTCs; five apparently sporadic MTCs were eventually found to be familial). We also evaluated mTOR activation--using the expression of its downstream effector phospho-S6 ribosomal protein (p-S6) and the expression of the mTOR inhibitor, phosphatase and tensin homologue deleted on chromosome 10 (PTEN)--by immunohistochemistry.
RESULTS: Our results revealed that RET mutations were present in 52.9% of the cases (46/87) and RAS mutations in 12.6% (11/87) of the whole series of MTCs and 14.3% of the 77 sporadic MTCs. The presence of RET and RAS mutations was mutually exclusive. RAS mutations were significantly associated with higher intensity of p-S6 expression (P=0.007), suggesting that the mTOR pathway is activated in such MTCs. We observed also an increased expression of p-S6 in invasive tumors (P=0.042) and in MTCs with lymph node metastases (P=0.046). Cytoplasmic PTEN expression was detected in 58.8% of the cases; cases WT for RAS showed a significantly lower expression of PTEN (P=0.045).
CONCLUSIONS: We confirmed the presence of RAS mutation in 14.3% of sporadic MTCs and report, for the first time, an association between such mutations and the activation of the mTOR pathway. The evaluation of the mTOR activation by pS6 expression may serve as an indicator of invasive MTC.

Zhang F, Tang JM, Wang L, et al.
Immunohistochemical detection of RET proto-oncogene product in tumoral and nontumoral mucosae of gastric cancer.
Anal Quant Cytopathol Histpathol. 2014; 36(3):128-36 [PubMed] Related Publications
OBJECTIVE: To detect RET (REarranged during Transfection) protein by immunohistochemistry (IHC) in gastric cancer.
STUDY DESIGN: A total of 210 samples were employed, of which 197 specimens were from 91 surgical pieces of gastric adenocarcinoma, comprising 91 tumoral, 91 nontumoral, and 15 intramucosal dysplastic samples. Another 13 gastric mucosae were from cancer-free patients. Two RET antibodies (clones Ret01 and 3F8) were used separately for IHC.
RESULTS: Of the nontumoral samples from gastric cancers, 28 were positive (31%) with either antibody Ret01 or 3F8. The positive stains were often located in deep pyloric glands and associated with chronic inflammation patterns (p = 0.045). RET positivity correlated with phosphorylated epidermal growth factor receptor, which had been previously tested (p = 0.021). In tumoral samples RET was positive in 7 cases with antibody Ret01 (8%) and 9 cases with 3F8 (10%). In 15 intramucosal dysplastic samples RET was detected in 6 cases with antibody Ret01 and 8 cases with 3F8. There was an accordance between the IHC using antibodies Ret01 and 3F8 in tumoral, nontumoral, and intramucosal dysplastic samples (p = 0.500, 1.000, and 0.500). The 13 samples from cancer-free patients were always negative.
CONCLUSION: Activation of RET proto-oncogene may be one of the molecular pathogeneses in gastric inflammatory and tumoral diseases.

Diaz-Rodriguez E, Garcia-Rendueles AR, Ibáñez-Costa A, et al.
Somatotropinomas, but not nonfunctioning pituitary adenomas, maintain a functional apoptotic RET/Pit1/ARF/p53 pathway that is blocked by excess GDNF.
Endocrinology. 2014; 155(11):4329-40 [PubMed] Related Publications
Acromegaly is caused by somatotroph cell adenomas (somatotropinomas [ACROs]), which secrete GH. Human and rodent somatotroph cells express the RET receptor. In rodents, when normal somatotrophs are deprived of the RET ligand, GDNF (Glial Cell Derived Neurotrophic Factor), RET is processed intracellularly to induce overexpression of Pit1 [Transcription factor (gene : POUF1) essential for transcription of Pituitary hormones GH, PRL and TSHb], which in turn leads to p19Arf/p53-dependent apoptosis. Our purpose was to ascertain whether human ACROs maintain the RET/Pit1/p14ARF/p53/apoptosis pathway, relative to nonfunctioning pituitary adenomas (NFPAs). Apoptosis in the absence and presence of GDNF was studied in primary cultures of 8 ACROs and 3 NFPAs. Parallel protein extracts were analyzed for expression of RET, Pit1, p19Arf, p53, and phospho-Akt. When GDNF deprived, ACRO cells, but not NFPAs, presented marked level of apoptosis that was prevented in the presence of GDNF. Apoptosis was accompanied by RET processing, Pit1 accumulation, and p14ARF and p53 induction. GDNF prevented all these effects via activation of phospho-AKT. Overexpression of human Pit1 (hPit1) directly induced p19Arf/p53 and apoptosis in a pituitary cell line. Using in silico studies, 2 CCAAT/enhancer binding protein alpha (cEBPα) consensus-binding sites were found to be 100% conserved in mouse, rat, and hPit1 promoters. Deletion of 1 cEBPα site prevented the RET-induced increase in hPit1 promoter expression. TaqMan qRT-PCR (real time RT-PCR) for RET, Pit1, Arf, TP53, GDNF, steroidogenic factor 1, and GH was performed in RNA from whole ACRO and NFPA tumors. ACRO but not NFPA adenomas express RET and Pit1. GDNF expression in the tumors was positively correlated with RET and negatively correlated with p53. In conclusion, ACROs maintain an active RET/Pit1/p14Arf/p53/apoptosis pathway that is inhibited by GDNF. Disruption of GDNF's survival function might constitute a new therapeutic route in acromegaly.

Liu S, Gao A, Zhang B, et al.
Assessment of molecular testing in fine-needle aspiration biopsy samples: an experience in a Chinese population.
Exp Mol Pathol. 2014; 97(2):292-7 [PubMed] Related Publications
Fine-needle aspiration biopsy remains the mainstay for preoperative examination of thyroid nodules; however, it does not provide a definite diagnosis in up to 25% of nodules. Considerable studies have been performed to identify molecular markers to resolve this diagnostic dilemma. The aim of this study was to establish the distribution and frequency of common genetic alterations in a comprehensive set of benign and malignant thyroid nodules, and to determine the feasibility and role of testing for a panel of genetic alterations in improving the accuracy of cytology diagnosis in a Chinese population. This study was conducted in 314 thyroid nodules comprising 104 papillary thyroid carcinomas, 13 suspicious nodules, 52 indeterminate nodules, and 145 benign nodules. Point mutations and RET/PTC rearrangements, were evaluated by pyrosequencing and TaqMan real-time PCR, respectively. After surgery, 115 nodules were confirmed as conventional papillary thyroid carcinoma and 102 (88.70%) of these nodules harbored either the BRAF(V600E) mutation (76.52%) or RET/PTC rearrangements (12.17%). RAS mutation was found in 1 (33.33%) follicular thyroid carcinoma, 1 (14.29%) follicular thyroid adenoma and 4 (10%) goiter nodules. With cytology and molecular testing, the diagnostic accuracy was further increased to 98.82% in papillary thyroid carcinoma diagnosis, and was preoperatively increased to 76.92% and 84.00%, respectively, in nodules with suspicious and indeterminate cytology. In conclusion, molecular testing of a panel of genetic alterations in fine-needle aspiration biopsy can be effectively performed in clinical practice. It enhances the accuracy of cytology and is of particular value for indeterminate nodules in the Chinese population.

Qian Y, Chai S, Liang Z, et al.
KIF5B-RET fusion kinase promotes cell growth by multilevel activation of STAT3 in lung cancer.
Mol Cancer. 2014; 13:176 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 15/12/2015 Related Publications
BACKGROUND: Lung cancer in nonsmokers tends to be driven by a single somatic mutation or a gene fusion. KIF5B-RET fusion is an oncogene identified in non-small cell lung cancers. In this study, we verified the oncogenic activity of KIF5B-RET fusion and investigated how KIF5B-RET activates the specific signaling pathways for cellular transformation. We aimed to provide a basis for the further development of the therapy for KIF5B-RET positive lung cancer patients.
METHODS: RT-PCR was used to screen for KIF5B-RET fusions in Chinese lung cancer patients. To verify the oncogenic activity of KIF5B-RET kinase in lung cancer cells, we manipulated its expression genetically followed by colony formation and tumor formation assays. The mechanism by which KIF5B-RET kinase induces proliferation was investigated by western blot, coimmunoprecipitation, and administration of RET, MAPK and STAT3 inhibitors.
RESULTS: Our study identified a KIF5B-RET fusion in Chinese NSCLC patients and demonstrated that KIF5B-RET transfected cells showed a significantly increased proliferation rate and colony-forming ability. Furthermore, we found that KIF5B-RET fusion kinase induced multilevel activation of STAT3 at both Tyr705 and Ser727, and KIF5B-RET-STAT3 signaling related inhibitors repressed the proliferation and tumorigenicity of lung cancer cells significantly.
CONCLUSIONS: Our data suggest that KIF5B-RET promotes the cell growth and tumorigenicity of non-small cell lung cancers through multilevel activation of STAT3 signaling, providing possible strategies for the treatment of KIF5B-RET positive lung cancers.

Malaguarnera R, Chen KY, Kim TY, et al.
Switch in signaling control of mTORC1 activity after oncoprotein expression in thyroid cancer cell lines.
J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2014; 99(10):E1976-87 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 01/10/2015 Related Publications
CONTEXT: Thyroid growth is regulated by TSH and requires mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR). Thyroid cancers frequently exhibit mutations in MAPK and/or phosphoinositol-3-kinase-related kinase effectors.
OBJECTIVE: The objective of the study was to explore the contribution of RET/PTC, RAS, and BRAF to mTOR regulation and response to mTOR inhibitors.
METHODS: PCCL3 cells conditionally expressing RET/PTC3, HRAS(G12V), or BRAF(V600E) and human thyroid cancer cells harboring mutations of these genes were used to test pathways controlling mTOR and its requirement for growth.
RESULTS: TSH/cAMP-induced growth of PCCL3 cells requires mTOR, which is stimulated via protein kinase A in a MAPK kinase (MEK)- and AKT-independent manner. Expression of RET/PTC3, HRAS(G12V), or BRAF(V600E) in PCCL3 cells induces mTOR but does not entirely abrogate the cAMP-mediated control of its activity. Acute oncoprotein-induced mTOR activity is regulated by MEK and AKT, albeit to differing degrees. By contrast, mTOR was not activated by TSH/cAMP in human thyroid cancer cells. Tumor genotype did not predict the effects of rapamycin or the mTOR kinase inhibitor AZD8055 on growth, with the exception of a PTEN-null cell line. Selective blockade of MEK did not influence mTOR activity of BRAF or RAS mutant cells. Combined MEK and mTOR kinase inhibition was synergistic on growth of BRAF- and RAS-mutant thyroid cancer cells in vitro and in vivo.
CONCLUSION: Thyroid cancer cells lose TSH/cAMP dependency of mTOR signaling and cell growth. mTOR activity is not decreased by the MEK or AKT inhibitors in the RAS or BRAF human thyroid cancer cell lines. This may account for the augmented effects of combining the mTOR inhibitors with selective antagonists of these oncogenic drivers.

Iwama E, Takayama K, Baba E, Nakanishi Y
[Personalized medicine in non-small-cell carcinoma].
Fukuoka Igaku Zasshi. 2014; 105(3):57-66 [PubMed] Related Publications

Styring E, Seinen J, Dominguez-Valentin M, et al.
Key roles for MYC, KIT and RET signaling in secondary angiosarcomas.
Br J Cancer. 2014; 111(2):407-12 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 15/07/2015 Related Publications
BACKGROUND: Angiosarcomas may develop as primary tumours of unknown cause or as secondary tumours, most commonly following radiotherapy to the involved field. The different causative agents may be linked to alternate tumorigenesis, which led us to investigate the genetic profiles of morphologically indistinguishable primary and secondary angiosarcomas.
METHODS: Whole-genome (18k) c-DNA-mediated annealing, selection, extension and ligation analysis was used to genetically profile 26 primary and 29 secondary angiosarcomas. Key findings were thereafter validated using RT-qPCR, immunohistochemistry and validation of the gene signature to an external data set.
RESULTS: In total, 103 genes were significantly deregulated between primary and secondary angiosarcomas. Secondary angiosarcomas showed upregulation of MYC, KIT and RET and downregulation of CDKN2C. Functional annotation analysis identified multiple target genes in the receptor protein tyrosine kinase pathway. The results were validated using RT-qPCR and immunohistochemistry. Further, the gene signature was applied to an external data set and, herein, distinguished primary from secondary angiosarcomas.
CONCLUSIONS: Upregulation of MYC, KIT and RET and downregulation of CDKN2C characterise secondary angiosarcoma, which implies possibilities for diagnostic application and a mechanistic basis for therapeutic evaluation of RET-kinase-inhibitors in these highly aggressive tumours.

Yanagishita T, Yajima I, Kumasaka M, et al.
An actin-binding protein espin is a growth regulator for melanoma.
J Invest Dermatol. 2014; 134(12):2996-9 [PubMed] Related Publications

Chen Z, Qi X, Fei J, et al.
[Multiple endocrine neoplasia type 2A caused by a p.C618R RET proto-oncogene mutation in a Chinese pedigree].
Zhonghua Yi Xue Yi Chuan Xue Za Zhi. 2014; 31(3):348-51 [PubMed] Related Publications
OBJECTIVE: To explore the clinical characteristics and significance of RET proto-oncogene screening in multiple endocrine neoplasia type 2A (MEN2A).
METHODS: Comprehensive medical history was obtained for 5 members from a 3-generation family from southern China. Clinical investigations have included biochemical testing, imaging, and screening of germline RET proto-oncogene mutations.
RESULTS: Genetic screening has revealed a missense mutation at codon 618(TGC>CGC) of exon 10 in 3 patients(p.C618R), which was consistent with their clinical manifestations. For the 3 individuals, the age at diagnosis was 21, 26 and 36 yr, and the maximum diameter of medullary thyroid carcinoma was 22, 25 and 39 cm, respectively. The 36-year-old female patient initially underwent right total thyroidectomy plus right neck lymph node dissection. Four years later, she again underwent left adrenal tumorectomy and left total thyroidectomy plus left neck lymph node dissection. The 21-year-old male patient underwent right total thyroidectomy plus right modified neck dissection. The follow-up was respectively 146 and 26 months following the initial operation. Two patients still presented elevated calcitonin and had bilateral neck lymph node masses and/or left thyroid masses on imaging examination. The 26-year-old female patient, who presented bilateral thyroid masses and elevated calcitonin, has refused thyroidectomy.
CONCLUSION: Combined family survey and RET gene screening can facilitate early diagnosis and surgical treatment to improve the prognosis.

Rettew AN, Getty PJ, Greenfield EM
Receptor tyrosine kinases in osteosarcoma: not just the usual suspects.
Adv Exp Med Biol. 2014; 804:47-66 [PubMed] Related Publications
Despite aggressive surgical and chemotherapy protocols, survival rates for osteosarcoma patients have not improved over the last 30 years. Therefore, novel therapeutic agents are needed. Receptor tyrosine kinases have emerged as targets for the development of new cancer therapies since their activation leads to enhanced proliferation, survival, and metastasis. In fact, aberrant expression and activation of RTKs have been associated with the progression of many cancers. Studies from our lab using phosphoproteomic screening identified RTKs that are activated and thus may contribute to the signaling within metastatic human osteosarcoma cells. Functional genomic screening using siRNA was performed to distinguish which of the activated RTKs contribute to in vitro phenotypes associated with metastatic potential (motility, invasion, colony formation, and cell growth). The resulting RTK hits were then validated using independent validation experiments. From these results, we identified four RTKs (Axl, EphB2, FGFR2, and Ret) that have not been previously studied in osteosarcoma and provide targets for the development of novel therapeutics.

Seib CD, Harari A, Conte FA, et al.
Utility of serum thyroglobulin measurements after prophylactic thyroidectomy in patients with hereditary medullary thyroid cancer.
Surgery. 2014; 156(2):394-8 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 01/08/2015 Related Publications
INTRODUCTION: Prophylactic thyroidectomy can be curative for patients with hereditary medullary thyroid cancer (MTC) caused by RET proto-oncogene mutations. Calcitonin is a sensitive tumor marker used to follow patients. We suggest that thyroglobulin (Tg) levels should also be monitored postoperatively in these patients.
METHODS: We reviewed patients with RET mutations who underwent prophylactic thyroidectomy between 1981 and 2011 at an academic endocrine surgery center. Patients were excluded if they had no postoperative Tg levels recorded.
RESULTS: Of the 22 patients who underwent prophylactic thyroidectomy, 14 were included in the final analysis. The average age at thyroidectomy was 9.8 years (range, 4-29). Tg levels were detectable 1.5 months to 31 years postoperatively in 11 patients (79%), all of whom were <15 years old at thyroidectomy. Median thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) was 2.5 mIU/L and 13.4 mIU/L in patients with undetectable and detectable Tg, respectively. Of those with detectable Tg, 5 had cervical ultrasonographic examination: Two showed no residual tissue in the thyroid bed, and 3 showed remnant thyroid tissue.
CONCLUSION: Tg levels can identify patients with remnant thyroid tissue after prophylactic thyroidectomy. Ultrasonography can determine whether thyroid tissue remains posterolaterally that is at risk of MTC recurrence. Maintaining normal TSH may prevent growth of remaining thyroid follicular cells.

Qi XP, Zhang RX, Cao JL, et al.
The rare intracellular RET mutation p.S891A in a Chinese Han family with familial medullary thyroid carcinoma.
J Biosci. 2014; 39(3):505-12 [PubMed] Related Publications
We report intracellular RET mutation in a Han Chinese pedigree with familial medullary thyroid carcinoma (FMTC). Direct sequencing of RET proto-oncogene identified a missense c.2671T greater than G (p.S891A) mutation in 6 of 14 family members. The single nucleotide polymorphisms c. 135A greater than G (p.A45A), IVS4 + 48A greater than G, c. 1296A greater than G (p.A432A), c. 2071G greater than A (p.G691S), c. 2307T greater than G (p.L769L) and a variant c. 833C greater than A (p.T278N) were also found in 6 carriers. Among 5 of the 6 carriers presented medullary thyroid carcinoma (MTC) as an isolated clinical phenotype, with elevated basal serum calcitonin (Ct). Two underwent non-normative thyroidectomy either two or four times without physician awareness or diagnosis of this disease at initial treatment, but with elevated Ct. One with elevated pre-Ct accepted total thyroidectomy (TT) with modified bilateral neck dissection (MBiND), and whose seventh posterior rib MTC metastases was confirmed 5 months after surgery. Moreover, results of two affected individuals with elevated Ct were reduced to normal after TT with MBiND or prophylactic VI compartmental dissection. However, only another carrier with the variant p.T278N had slightly elevated Ct rejected surgery and was strictly monitored. Given these case results, we suggest that screening of RET and pre-surgical Ct levels in the management of MTC patients is essential for earlier diagnosis and more normative initial treatment, that FMTC patients with cervical lymph nodes metastases may be cured by TT with MBiND, and that prophylactic VI compartmental dissection should be avoided when Ct levels are low.

Simbolo M, Mian C, Barollo S, et al.
High-throughput mutation profiling improves diagnostic stratification of sporadic medullary thyroid carcinomas.
Virchows Arch. 2014; 465(1):73-8 [PubMed] Related Publications
Sporadic medullary thyroid carcinoma (MTC) harbors RET gene somatic mutations in up to 50 % of cases, and RAS family gene mutations occur in about 10 %. A timely and comprehensive characterization of molecular alterations is needed to improve MTC diagnostic stratification and design-tailored therapeutic approaches. Twenty surgically resected sporadic MTCs, previously analyzed for RET mutations by Sanger sequencing using DNA from formalin-fixed paraffin-embedded samples, were investigated for intragenic mutations in 50 cancer-associated genes applying a multigene Ion AmpliSeq next-generation sequencing (NGS) technology. Thirteen (65 %) MTCs harbored a RET mutation; 10 were detected at both Sanger and NGS sequencing, while 3 undetected by Sanger were revealed by NGS. One of the 13 RET-mutated cases also showed an F354L germline mutation in STK11. Of the seven RET wild-type MTCs, four cases (57.1 %) harbored a RAS mutation: three in HRAS (all Q61R) and one in KRAS (G12R). The three remaining MTCs (15 %) resulted as wild-type for all the 50 cancer-related genes. Follow-up was available in all but one RET-mutated case. At the end of follow-up, 7 of 12 (58 %) RET-mutated patients had relapsed, while the 4 RAS-mutated MTC patients were disease-free. Two of the three patients with MTC wild-type for all 50 genes relapsed during the follow-up period. Detection of mutations by NGS has the potential to improve the diagnostic stratification of sporadic MTC.

Milosevic Z, Tanic N, Bankovic J, et al.
Genetic alterations in quadruple malignancies of a patient with multiple sclerosis: their role in malignancy development and response to therapy.
Int J Clin Exp Pathol. 2014; 7(4):1826-33 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 01/08/2015 Related Publications
Multiple cancers represent 2.42% of all human cancers and are mainly double or triple cancers. Many possible causes of multiple malignancies have been reported such as genetic alterations, exposure to anti-cancer chemotherapy, radiotherapy, immunosuppressive therapy and reduced immunologic response. We report a female patient with multiple sclerosis and quadruple cancers of different embryological origin. Patient was diagnosed with stage III (T3, N1a, MO) medullary thyroid carcinoma (MTC), multicentric micropapillary thyroid carcinoma, scapular and lumbar melanomas (Clark II, Breslow II), and lobular invasive breast carcinoma (T1a, NO, MO). All tumors present in our patient except micropapillary thyroid carcinomas were investigated for gene alterations known to have a key role in cancer promotion and progression. Tumor samples were screened for the p16 alterations (loss of heterozygosity and homozygous deletions), loss of heterozygosity of PTEN, p53 alterations (mutational status and loss of heterozygosity) and mutational status of RET, HRAS and KRAS. Each type of tumor investigated had specific pattern of analyzed genetic alterations. The most prominent genetic changes were mutual alterations in PTEN and p53 tumor suppressors present in breast cancer and two melanomas. These co-alterations could be crucial for promoting development of multiple malignancies. Moreover the insertion in 4(th) codon of HRAS gene was common for all tumor types investigated. It represents frameshift mutation introducing stop codon at position 5 which prevents synthesis of a full-length protein. Since the inactivated RAS enhances sensitivity to tamoxifen and radiotherapy this genetic alteration could be considered as a good prognostic factor for this patient.

Cazes A, Lopez-Delisle L, Tsarovina K, et al.
Activated Alk triggers prolonged neurogenesis and Ret upregulation providing a therapeutic target in ALK-mutated neuroblastoma.
Oncotarget. 2014; 5(9):2688-702 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 01/08/2015 Related Publications
Activating mutations of the ALK (Anaplastic lymphoma Kinase) gene have been identified in sporadic and familial cases of neuroblastoma, a cancer of early childhood arising from the sympathetic nervous system (SNS). To decipher ALK function in neuroblastoma predisposition and oncogenesis, we have characterized knock-in (KI) mice bearing the two most frequent mutations observed in neuroblastoma patients. A dramatic enlargement of sympathetic ganglia is observed in AlkF1178L mice from embryonic to adult stages associated with an increased proliferation of sympathetic neuroblasts from E14.5 to birth. In a MYCN transgenic context, the F1178L mutation displays a higher oncogenic potential than the R1279Q mutation as evident from a shorter latency of tumor onset. We show that tumors expressing the R1279Q mutation are sensitive to ALK inhibition upon crizotinib treatment. Furthermore, our data provide evidence that activated ALK triggers RET upregulation in mouse sympathetic ganglia at birth as well as in murine and human neuroblastoma. Using vandetanib, we show that RET inhibition strongly impairs tumor growth in vivo in both MYCN/KI AlkR1279Q and MYCN/KI AlkF1178L mice. Altogether, our findings demonstrate the critical role of activated ALK in SNS development and pathogenesis and identify RET as a therapeutic target in ALK mutated neuroblastoma.

Medina-Echeverz J, Fioravanti J, Díaz-Valdés N, et al.
Harnessing high density lipoproteins to block transforming growth factor beta and to inhibit the growth of liver tumor metastases.
PLoS One. 2014; 9(5):e96799 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 01/08/2015 Related Publications
Transforming growth factor β (TGF-β) is a powerful promoter of cancer progression and a key target for antitumor therapy. As cancer cells exhibit active cholesterol metabolism, high density lipoproteins (HDLs) appear as an attractive delivery system for anticancer TGFβ-inhibitory molecules. We constructed a plasmid encoding a potent TGF-β-blocking peptide (P144) linked to apolipoprotein A-I (ApoA-I) through a flexible linker (pApoLinkerP144). The ApoLinkerP144 sequence was then incorporated into a hepatotropic adeno-associated vector (AAVApoLinkerP144). The aim was to induce hepatocytes to produce HDLs containing a modified ApoA-I capable of blocking TGF-β. We observed that transduction of the murine liver with pApoLinkerP144 led to the appearance of a fraction of circulating HDL containing the fusion protein. These HDLs were able to attenuate TGF-β signaling in the liver and to enhance IL-12 -mediated IFN-γ production. Treatment of liver metastasis of MC38 colorectal cancer with AAVApoLinkerP144 resulted in a significant reduction of tumor growth and enhanced expression of IFN-γ and GM-CSF in cancerous tissue. ApoLinkerP144 also delayed MC38 liver metastasis in Rag2-/-IL2rγ-/- immunodeficient mice. This effect was associated with downregulation of TGF-β target genes essential for metastatic niche conditioning. Finally, in a subset of ret transgenic mice, a model of aggressive spontaneous metastatic melanoma, AAVApoLinkerP144 delayed tumor growth in association with increased CD8+ T cell numbers in regional lymph nodes. In conclusion, modification of HDLs to transport TGF-β-blocking molecules is a novel and promising approach to inhibit the growth of liver metastases by immunological and non-immunological mechanisms.

Astl J, Chovanec M, Lukeš P, et al.
Thyroid carcinoma surgery in children and adolescents - 15 years experience surgery of pediatric thyroid carcinoma.
Int J Pediatr Otorhinolaryngol. 2014; 78(7):990-4 [PubMed] Related Publications
OBJECTIVES: The purpose of this study is to evaluate the characteristics of thyroid gland surgery focusing on malignancies at the pediatric age with the main concern on treatment results and complications in extensive primary treatment.
METHODS: The records of all patients 18 years and younger with surgically treated thyroid diseases in the Prague Hospital, Motol, between 1991 and 2006 were retrospectively reviewed.
RESULTS: Thyroid surgery was performed on 148 pediatric patients (including 56 carcinomas). The youngest patient involved in the study was seven years old, the oldest patient 18 years old (mean 13.7 years). Most frequent histological cancer type was PTC (42 cases, 75%). Follicular cancer was diagnosed in five cases (8.9%) and medullar cancer in nine cases (16.1%). A prophylactic thyroidectomy was performed in three cases (5.4%) without clinical signs of thyroid tumor with diagnosed RET gene mutation.
CONCLUSIONS: We consider total thyroidectomy with subsequent radioiodine ablation and TSH suppression as the basic approach in the treatment protocol of pediatric WDTC. The observed 100% recurrence-free and overall survival together with a low incidence of postoperative complications strongly supports the idea of a total thyroidectomy with selective neck dissection in the treatment of metastases of WDTC and MTC.

Ghazi AA, Bagheri M, Tabibi A, et al.
Multiple endocrine neoplasia type 2A in an Iranian family: clinical and genetic studies.
Arch Iran Med. 2014; 17(5):378-82 [PubMed] Related Publications
Multiple endocrine neoplasia (MEN) type 2A, a dominant inherited syndrome caused by germline activating mutations in the RET protooncogene, is characterized by association of medullary thyroid carcinoma, pheochromocytoma and primary hyperparathyroidism. There is limited data on this disease in the Middle East region. In this paper, we present clinical and genetic studies of an Iranian patient and her family members. The patient was a 49-year old Iranian woman who presented with hypertension due to bilateral pheochromocytoma. She had history of a medullary carcinoma of thyroid which had been operated 28 years ago. Analysis of the RET gene in the family revealed a C634R mutation in codon 11 and 3 polymorphisms, G691S, S836S and S904S in codons 11, 14 and 15, respectively, that might have been important in modifying the clinical picture. Due to paucity of information on MEN type 2 in the area, this study can be helpful in portraying the clinical and cytogenetic characteristics of the disease in the region.

He S, Chen CH, Chernichenko N, et al.
GFRα1 released by nerves enhances cancer cell perineural invasion through GDNF-RET signaling.
Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2014; 111(19):E2008-17 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 01/08/2015 Related Publications
The ability of cancer cells to invade along nerves is associated with aggressive disease and diminished patient survival rates. Perineural invasion (PNI) may be mediated by nerve secretion of glial cell line-derived neurotrophic factor (GDNF) attracting cancer cell migration through activation of cell surface Ret proto-oncogene (RET) receptors. GDNF family receptor (GFR)α1 acts as coreceptor with RET, with both required for response to GDNF. We demonstrate that GFRα1 released by nerves enhances PNI, even in the absence of cancer cell GFRα1 expression. Cancer cell migration toward GDNF, RET phosphorylation, and MAPK pathway activity are increased with exposure to soluble GFRα1 in a dose-dependent fashion. Dorsal root ganglia (DRG) release soluble GFRα1, which potentiates RET activation and cancer cell migration. In vitro DRG coculture assays of PNI show diminished PNI with DRG from GFRα1(+/-) mice compared with GFRα1(+/+) mice. An in vivo murine model of PNI demonstrates that cancer cells lacking GFRα1 maintain an ability to invade nerves and impair nerve function, whereas those lacking RET lose this ability. A tissue microarray of human pancreatic ductal adenocarcinomas demonstrates wide variance of cancer cell GFRα1 expression, suggesting an alternate source of GFRα1 in PNI. These findings collectively demonstrate that GFRα1 released by nerves enhances PNI through GDNF-RET signaling and that GFRα1 expression by cancer cells enhances but is not required for PNI. These results advance a mechanistic understanding of PNI and implicate the nerve itself as a key facilitator of this adverse cancer cell behavior.

Rusmini M, Griseri P, Matera I, et al.
Expression variability and function of the RET gene in adult peripheral blood mononuclear cells.
J Cell Physiol. 2014; 229(12):2027-37 [PubMed] Related Publications
RET is a gene playing a key role during embryogenesis and in particular during the enteric nervous system development. High levels of RET gene expression are maintained in different human tissues also in adulthood, although their physiological role remains unclear. In particular, collected evidences of a RET contribution in the development and maintenance of the immune system prompted us to investigate its levels of surface expression on peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) from adult healthy donors. Despite variability among samples, RET expression was conserved at similar levels in the different immune cell subsets, with higher correlations in similar lymphocyte populations (i.e. CD4(+) and CD8(+) T cells). Conversely, no correlation was found between the amount of RET receptor, the expression of its putative ligands and co-receptors and the genotypes at the RET locus. Moreover, we investigated the RET-associated inflammatory pathways in PBMCs from healthy donors both in resting conditions and upon glial cell derived neurotrophic factor (GDNF) and GPI-linked co-receptors alpha 1 (GFRα1) mediated RET activation. RET mRNA levels positively correlated with the transcript amount of interleukin-8 (IL-8), a cytokine produced by monocytes and macrophages, though we could not demonstrate its direct effect on RET expression by in vitro experiments on THP1 human monocytic cells. These results imply that RET expression might be influenced by either cis- and/or trans-factors, which together would account for its high variability within the general population, and suggest a putative functional role of the RET gene in modulating immune cell responses during inflammation and carcinogenesis.

Wang N, Xu D, Sofiadis A, et al.
Telomerase-dependent and independent telomere maintenance and its clinical implications in medullary thyroid carcinoma.
J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2014; 99(8):E1571-9 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 01/08/2015 Related Publications
CONTEXT: Telomere maintenance via telomerase activation and the alternative lengthening of telomeres (ALT) mechanism was assessed in medullary thyroid carcinoma.
SETTING AND DESIGN: In total, 42 medullary thyroid carcinomas (MTC) were studied including 24 rearranged during transfection (RET)- mutated cases. Relative telomerase reverse transcriptase (TERT) expression, splice forms, and telomere length were determined by PCR-based methods, and telomerase activity by ELISA. The ALT mechanism was detected by Southern blot analysis and immunofluorescence.
RESULTS: TERT expression and telomerase activity were detected in 21/42 tumors (50%), and was independent of the common somatic M918T RET mutation. Mean telomere length was shorter in MTCs compared with thyroids. Telomerase activation was associated with large tumor size (P = .027), advanced clinical stage (P = .0001), and short survival (P = .0001). Full-length TERT and the α(-) and β(-)-deletion forms were revealed, and the full-length form was associated with short survival (P = .04). A subset of cases without telomerase activation showed involvement of the ALT mechanism, which was associated with a low MIB-1 proliferation index (P = .024).
CONCLUSIONS: Stabilization of telomeres by telomerase activation occurs in half of the MTCs and by the ALT mechanism in a subset of cases. Telomerase activation may be used as an additional prognostic marker in medullary thyroid carcinoma.

Grüllich C
Cabozantinib: a MET, RET, and VEGFR2 tyrosine kinase inhibitor.
Recent Results Cancer Res. 2014; 201:207-14 [PubMed] Related Publications
Cabozantinib is a receptor tyrosine kinase inhibitor with activity against MET, VEGFR2, FLT3, c-KIT, and RET. Activity of cabozantinib toward a broad range of tumor models could be detected in several preclinical studies. Of note, cabozantinib decreases metastasis potential and tumor invasiveness when compared with placebo or agents that target VEGFR and have no activity against MET. Clinical phase I and II studies with cabozantinib have been conducted in various malignancies including medullary thyroid cancer (MTC), NSCLC, breast, ovarian, pancreatic, and prostate cancer. In MTC, gain of function mutations of RET are central for tumorigenesis. Hereditary forms of MTC (MEN II) are caused by germline mutations of RET, in sporadic MTC in up to 50% of cases RET mutations occur. Additionally, activating molecular changes in VEGFR and MET pathways have also been implicated in MTC progression. Clinical responses with cabozantinib in MTC could be observed in early clinical trials, and following confirmation of clinical benefit in a randomized phase III trial, cabozantinib gained FDA approval for first-line treatment of advanced MTC in 2012. In prostate cancer models, MET expression increases with androgen ablation and clinical progression of bone and lymph node metastasis. A phase II trial with cabozantinib also showed very promising response rates in patients with metastatic prostate cancer. Therefore, randomized phase III studies are currently ongoing to validate the efficacy of cabozantinib in heavily pretreated prostate cancer patients.

Mizukami T, Shiraishi K, Shimada Y, et al.
Molecular mechanisms underlying oncogenic RET fusion in lung adenocarcinoma.
J Thorac Oncol. 2014; 9(5):622-30 [PubMed] Related Publications
BACKGROUND: Oncogenic RET fusion, caused by an inversion in chromosome 10, was recently identified as a driver mutation for the development of lung adenocarcinoma (LADC). Nevertheless, the molecular mechanism(s) underlying the rearrangement of the RET locus during lung carcinogenesis are unknown.
METHODS: Genomic segments containing breakpoint junctions for RET fusions were cloned and analyzed by genomic polymerase chain reaction and genome capture sequencing using a next-generation sequencer to identify the mechanisms involved in DNA strand breaks and illegitimate joining of DNA ends. Of the 18 cases studied, 16 were identified by screening 671 LADC cases and two were previously published.
RESULTS: Almost all (17 of 18, 94%) of the breakpoints in RET were located within a 2.0-kb region spanning exon 11 to intron 11 and no breakpoint occurred within 4 bp of any other. This suggested that as in papillary thyroid carcinoma, DNA strand breaks formed at nonspecific sites within this region trigger RET fusion. Just over half of the RET fusions in LADC (10 of 18, 56%) were caused by simple reciprocal inversion, and two DNA-repair mechanisms, namely nonhomologous end joining and break-induced replication, were deduced to have contributed to the illegitimate joining of the DNA ends.
CONCLUSIONS: Oncogenic RET fusion in LADC occurs through multiple pathways and involves the illegitimate repair of DNA strand breaks through mechanisms different from those identified in papillary thyroid carcinoma, where RET fusion also functions as a driver mutation.

Watanabe H, Brooks AN, Meyerson M
Breaking down RET breakpoints in lung adenocarcinoma.
J Thorac Oncol. 2014; 9(5):590-2 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 01/05/2015 Related Publications

Further References

Mulligan LM, Kwok JB, Healey CS, et al.
Germ-line mutations of the RET proto-oncogene in multiple endocrine neoplasia type 2A.
Nature. 1993; 363(6428):458-60 [PubMed] Related Publications
Multiple endocrine neoplasia type 2A (MEN 2A) is a dominantly inherited cancer syndrome that affects tissues derived from neural ectoderm. It is characterized by medullary thyroid carcinoma (MTC) and phaeochromocytoma. The MEN2A gene has recently been localized by a combination of genetic and physical mapping techniques to a 480-kilobase region in chromosome 10q11.2 (refs 2,3). The DNA segment encompasses the RET proto-oncogene, a receptor tyrosine kinase gene expressed in MTC and phaeochromocytoma and at lower levels in normal human thyroid. This suggested RET as a candidate for the MEN2A gene. We have identified missense mutations of the RET proto-oncogene in 20 of 23 apparently distinct MEN 2A families, but not in 23 normal controls. Further, 19 of these 20 mutations affect the same conserved cysteine residue at the boundary of the RET extracellular and transmembrane domains.

Donis-Keller H, Dou S, Chi D, et al.
Mutations in the RET proto-oncogene are associated with MEN 2A and FMTC.
Hum Mol Genet. 1993; 2(7):851-6 [PubMed] Related Publications
Multiple endocrine neoplasia type 2A (MEN 2A) and familial medullary thyroid carcinoma (FMTC) are dominantly inherited conditions which predispose to the development of endocrine neoplasia. Evidence is presented that sequence changes within the coding region of the RET proto-oncogene, a putative transmembrane tyrosine kinase, may be responsible for the development of neoplasia in these inherited disorders. Single strand conformational variants (SSCVs) in exons 7 and 8 of the RET proto-oncogene were identified in eight MEN 2A and four FMTC families. The variants were observed only in the DNA of individuals who were either affected or who had inherited the MEN2A or FMTC allele as determined by haplotyping experiments. The seven variants identified were sequenced directly. All involved point mutations within codons specifying cysteine residues, resulting in nonconservative amino acid changes. Six of the seven mutations are located in exon 7. A single mutation was found in exon 8. Variants were not detected in four MEN 2B families studied for all exon assays available, nor were they detectable in 16 cases of well documented sporadic medullary thyroid carcinoma or pheochromocytoma that were tested for exon 7 variants. Coinheritance of the mutations with disease and the physical and genetic proximity of the RET proto-oncogene provide evidence that RET is responsible for at least two of the three inherited forms of MEN 2. Neither the normal function, nor the ligand of RET are yet known. However, its apparent involvement in the development of these inherited forms of neoplasia as well as in papillary thyroid carcinoma suggest an important developmental or cell regulatory role for the protein.

Mulligan LM, Eng C, Healey CS, et al.
Specific mutations of the RET proto-oncogene are related to disease phenotype in MEN 2A and FMTC.
Nat Genet. 1994; 6(1):70-4 [PubMed] Related Publications
We have analysed 118 families with inherited medullary thyroid carcinoma (MTC) for mutations of the RET proto-oncogene. These included cases of multiple endocrine neoplasia types 2A (MEN 2A) and 2B (MEN 2B) and familial MTC (FMTC). Mutations at one of 5 cysteines in the extracellular domain were found in 97% of patients with MEN 2A and 86% with FMTC but not in MEN 2B patients or normal controls. 84% of the MEN2A mutations affected codon 634. MEN 2A patients with a Cys634 to Arg substitution had a greater risk of developing parathyroid disease than those with other codon 634 mutations. Our data show a strong correlation between disease phenotype and the nature and position of the RET mutation, suggesting that a simple, constitutive activation of the RET tyrosine kinase is unlikely to explain the events leading to MEN 2A and FMTC.

Hofstra RM, Landsvater RM, Ceccherini I, et al.
A mutation in the RET proto-oncogene associated with multiple endocrine neoplasia type 2B and sporadic medullary thyroid carcinoma.
Nature. 1994; 367(6461):375-6 [PubMed] Related Publications
Multiple endocrine neoplasia type 2 (MEN 2) comprises three clinically distinct, dominantly inherited cancer syndromes. MEN 2A patients develop medullary thyroid carcinoma (MTC) and phaeochromocytoma. MEN 2B patients show in addition ganglioneuromas of the gastrointestinal tract and skeletal abnormalities. In familial MTC, only the thyroid is affected. Germ-line mutations of the RET proto-oncogene have recently been reported in association with MEN 2A and familial MTC. All mutations occurred within codons specifying cysteine residues in the transition point between the RET protein extracellular and transmembrane domains. We now show that MEN 2B is also associated with mutation of the RET proto-oncogene. A mutation in codon 664, causing the substitution of a threonine for a methionine in the tyrosine kinase domain of the protein, was found in all nine unrelated MEN 2B patients studied. The same mutation was found in six out of 18 sporadic tumours.

Bounacer A, Wicker R, Caillou B, et al.
High prevalence of activating ret proto-oncogene rearrangements, in thyroid tumors from patients who had received external radiation.
Oncogene. 1997; 15(11):1263-73 [PubMed] Related Publications
A high frequency (about 60%) of ret rearrangements in papillary thyroid carcinomas of children exposed to radioactive fallout in Belarus after the Chernobyl accident, has been reported by three recent studies (Fugazzola et al., 1995; Ito et al., 1994; Klugbauer et al., 1995). These studies suggested that the radiation exposure may be a direct inducer of activating rearrangements in the ret gene. In order to confirm the postulated link between irradiation and the role of the ret proto-oncogene in thyroid tumorigenesis, we analysed for the presence of ret activating rearrangements using RT-PCR, XL-PCR, Southern blot and direct sequencing techniques, 39 human thyroid tumors (19 papillary carcinomas and 20 follicular adenomas), from patients who had received external radiation for benign or malignant conditions. As controls, we studied 39 'spontaneous' tumors (20 papillary carcinomas and 19 follicular adenomas). Our data concerning the radiation-associated tumors, showed that: (1) the overall frequency of ret rearrangements was 84% in papillary carcinomas (16/19) and 45% (9/20) in follicular adenomas; (2) in contrast with the results obtained in the Chernobyl tumors, the most frequently observed chimeric gene was RET/PTC1 instead of the RET/PTC3 and (3) all the tumors were negative for RET/PTC2. In the 'spontaneous' tumors, only the papillary carcinomas presented a ret rearrangement (15%:3/20): 1 RET/PTC1, 1 RET/ PTC3 and 1 uncharacterized. In conclusion, our results confirm the crucial role played by the ret proto-oncogene activating rearrangements in the development of radiation-associated thyroid tumors appearing after therapeutic or accidental ionizing irradiation, and show, for the first time, the presence of RET/PTC genes in follicular adenomas appeared after external irradiation.

Nikiforov YE, Rowland JM, Bove KE, et al.
Distinct pattern of ret oncogene rearrangements in morphological variants of radiation-induced and sporadic thyroid papillary carcinomas in children.
Cancer Res. 1997; 57(9):1690-4 [PubMed] Related Publications
In this study, we compare the morphological and genetic characteristics of 38 post-Chernobyl thyroid papillary carcinomas from Belarussian children 5-18 years old with those of 23 sporadic papillary carcinomas from the same age children without history of radiation exposure from Los Angeles and Cincinnati. Among radiation-induced tumors, solid variant of papillary carcinoma was found in 37%, follicular in 29%, typical papillary in 18%, and mixed and diffuse sclerosing variants in 8% each. In the sporadic group, a typical papillary pattern was prevalent in 70%, follicular in 17%, diffuse sclerosing variant in 9%, and solid in 4%. In both groups, the prevalence of ret rearrangements was high, but the frequency of specific types of rearrangement was significantly different. Among radiation-induced tumors, ret/PTC3 was found in 58%, ret/PTC1 in 16%, and ret/PTC2 in 3%, whereas among sporadic tumors, ret/PTC1 was found in 47% (P < 0.05), and ret/PTC3 was found in 18% (P = 0.01). The morphological variants of papillary carcinoma showed different prevalence of the specific types of ret rearrangement. Seventy-nine % of solid variant tumors had ret/PTC3, whereas only 7% had ret/PTC1 (P = 0.0007). Among typical papillary tumors, ret/PTC1 was found in 38%, ret/PTC3 in 19%, and ret/PTC2 in 5%. Thus, ret rearrangements are highly prevalent in pediatric papillary carcinomas from children exposed to radiation and in those occurring sporadically. However, the types of ret/PTC vary between these two populations, with ret/PTC3 present more commonly in post-Chernobyl tumors. Furthermore, solid variants have a high prevalence of ret/PTC3, whereas typical papillary carcinomas do not, suggesting that the different types of ret rearrangement confer neoplastic thyroid cells with distinct phenotypic properties.

Smida J, Salassidis K, Hieber L, et al.
Distinct frequency of ret rearrangements in papillary thyroid carcinomas of children and adults from Belarus.
Int J Cancer. 1999; 80(1):32-8 [PubMed] Related Publications
Rearrangements of the ret oncogene were investigated in papillary thyroid carcinomas (PTC) from 51 Belarussian children with a mean age of 3 years at the time of the Chernobyl radiation accident. For comparison, 16 PTC from exposed Belarussian adults and 16 PTC from German patients without radiation history were included in the study. ret rearrangements were detected and specified by RT-PCR and direct sequencing using specific primers for ret/PTC1, 2 and 3. Only ret/PTC1, and no ret/PTC3, was found in the adult patients, with a frequency of 69% for the Belarussian cases, but of only 19% in the German patients. In contrast, 13 ret/PTC3 (25.5%) and 12 ret/PTC1 (23.5%) rearrangements were present in PTC from Belarussian children. Thus, our study reveals about a 1:1 ratio of ret/PTC3 and ret/PTC1, in contrast to earlier studies with lower numbers of cases and exhibiting a high predominance of ret/PTC3 (ratio about 3:1). A ratio (2.5:1) similar to that in earlier investigations (diagnosed 1991-94) was obtained for cases included in our study that were diagnosed in 1993/94. The present data suggest that ret/PTC3 may be typical for radiation-associated childhood PTC with a short latency period, whereas ret/PTC1 may be a marker for later-occurring PTC of radiation-exposed adults and children.

Disclaimer: This site is for educational purposes only; it can not be used in diagnosis or treatment.

Cite this page: Cotterill SJ. RET, Cancer Genetics Web: Accessed:

Creative Commons License
This page in Cancer Genetics Web by Simon Cotterill is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.
Note: content of abstracts copyright of respective publishers - seek permission where appropriate.

 [Home]    Page last revised: 27 February, 2015     Cancer Genetics Web, Established 1999