Functional significance of the novel H-RAS gene mutation M72I in a patient with medullary thyroid cancer

S Barollo, R Pezzani, A Cristiani, L Bertazza, B Rubin, A Bulfone, M R Pelizzo, F Torresan, F Mantero, G Pennelli, S Moro, C Mian
Experimental and Clinical Endocrinology & Diabetes 2013, 121 (9): 546-50
Medullary thyroid cancer (MTC) accounts for around 5-10% of all thyroid cancers. Though usually sporadic, 1 in 4 cases are of genetic origin, with germinal mutations in the RET proto-oncogene in familial forms and somatic mutations both in RET and in the RAS family genes in sporadic ones.This study aimed to characterize a rare H-RAS sequence variant -M72I- in a patient with sporadic MTC, focusing on its functional significance.Mutation analysis was performed for the RET, N-RAS, K-RAS and H-RAS genes by direct sequencing. Western blot analysis was done on 4 thyroid tissues from 1 patient carrying the M72I mutation in H-RAS, 1 with the Q61R mutation in H-RAS, 1 with no RET, H-RAS, K-RAS or N-RAS gene mutations, and 1 normal thyroid, using different antibodies against Erk1/2, phospho-Erk1/2 (Thr202/Tyr204), Akt and phospho-Akt (Ser473). Large-scale molecular dynamics simulations were completed for H-RAS wt and H-RAS M72I.Western blot analysis demonstrated that both MAPK and PI3K/Akt pathways were activated in the MTC patient carrying the M72I variant. In silico results showed conformational changes in H-RAS that could influence its activation by Sos and phosphate binding. Results of molecular dynamics were consistent with Western blot experiments.The M72I mutation may contribute effectively to proliferation and survival signaling throughout the MAPK and PI3K/Akt pathways. This work underscores the importance of studying genetic alterations that may lead to carcinogenesis.

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