High prevalence of BRAF gene mutation in papillary thyroid carcinomas and thyroid tumor cell lines

Xiulong Xu, Roderick M Quiros, Paolo Gattuso, Kenneth B Ain, Richard A Prinz
Cancer Research 2003 August 1, 63 (15): 4561-7
The RAS-RAF-MEK-ERK-MAP kinase pathway mediates the cellular response to extracellular signals that regulate cell proliferation, differentiation, and apoptosis. Mutation of the RAS proto-oncogene occurs in various thyroid neoplasms such as papillary thyroid carcinomas (PTCs), follicular thyroid adenomas and carcinomas. A second genetic alteration frequently involved in PTC is RET/PTC rearrangements. Recent studies have shown that BRAF, which is a downstream signaling molecule of RET and RAS, is frequently mutated in melanomas. This study tests whether BRAF is also mutated in thyroid tumors and cell lines. We analyzed BRAF gene mutation at codon 599 in thyroid tumors using mutant-allele-specific PCR and in 10 thyroid tumor cell lines by DNA sequencing of the PCR-amplified exon 15. We found that BRAF was mutated in 8 of 10 thyroid tumor cell lines, including 2 of 2 papillary carcinoma cell lines, 4 of 5 anaplastic carcinoma cell lines, 1 of 2 follicular carcinoma cell lines, and 1 follicular adenoma cell line. BRAF mutation at codon 599 was detected in 21 of 56 PTC (38%) but not in 18 follicular adenomas and 6 goiters. BRAF mutation occurred in PTC at a significantly higher frequency in male patients than in female patients. To test whether BRAF mutation may cooperate with RET/PTC rearrangements in the oncogenesis of PTC, we tested whether BRAF-mutated PTCs were also positive for RET/PTC rearrangements. Immunohistochemical staining was conducted to evaluate RET/PTC rearrangements by using two different anti-RET antibodies. Surprisingly, we found that a large number of BRAF-mutated PTCs (8 of 21) also expressed RET, indicating that the RET proto-oncogene is rearranged in these BRAF-mutated PTCs. These observations suggest that mutated BRAF gene may cooperate with RET/PTC to induce the oncogenesis of PTC.

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