High prevalence of RAS mutations in RET-negative sporadic medullary thyroid carcinomas

Margarida M Moura, Branca M Cavaco, António E Pinto, Valeriano Leite
Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism 2011, 96 (5): E863-8

CONTEXT: Sporadic medullary thyroid carcinomas (MTC) frequently harbor mutations in the RET protooncogene. We have earlier reported a series of 51 sporadic MTC with 64.7% of RET-positive and 35.3% of RET-negative cases.

OBJECTIVE: In the present study, we investigated the possible involvement of RAS and BRAF protooncogenes in the development of sporadic RET-negative MTC.

PATIENTS AND DESIGN: We performed PCR amplification and sequencing analysis of the three mutational hotspots (codons 12, 13, and 61) of the H-, K-, and N-RAS genes, and of the mutational hotspot (codon 600) and exon 11 of the BRAF gene in 65 sporadic MTC, of which 40 were RET positive and 25 were RET negative.

RESULTS: Somatic H-RAS and K-RAS mutations were detected in 14 of 25 (56.0%) and three of 25 (12.0%) of RET-negative sporadic MTC, respectively. On the other hand, only one of 40 (2.5%) RET-positive sporadic MTC had a RAS mutation, namely in H-RAS. One of the H-RAS mutations was novel (c.32_37dupCCGGCG). No mutations of N-RAS or BRAF were detected in all assessed tumor samples.

CONCLUSIONS: Overall, our results showed that RAS mutations were present in 68.0% (17 of 25) of the RET-negative MTC and in only 2.5% of the RET-positive MTC (P < 0.0001), suggesting that activation of the protooncogenes RAS and RET represents alternative genetic events in sporadic MTC tumorigenesis.

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