RET receptor signaling: Function in development, metabolic disease, and cancer

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The RET proto-oncogene encodes a receptor tyrosine kinase whose alterations are responsible for various human cancers and developmental disorders, including thyroid cancer, non-small cell lung cancer, multiple endocrine neoplasia type 2, and Hirschsprung’s disease. RET receptors are physiologically activated by glial cell line-derived neurotrophic factor (GDNF) family ligands that bind to the coreceptor GDNF family receptor α (GFRα). Signaling via the GDNF/ GFR,1/RET ternary complex plays crucial roles in the development of the enteric nervous system, kidneys, and urinary tract, as well as in the self-renewal of spermatogonial stem cells. In addition, another ligand, growth differentiation factor-15 (GDF15), has been shown to bind to GFR,-like and activate RET, regulating body weight. GDF15 is a stress response cytokine, and its elevated serum levels affect metabolism and anorexia-cachexia syndrome. Moreover, recent development of RET-specific kinase inhibitors contributed significantly to progress in the treatment of patients with RET-altered cancer. This review focuses on the broad roles of RET in development, metabolic diseases, and cancer.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)112-125
Number of pages14
JournalProceedings of the Japan Academy Series B: Physical and Biological Sciences
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2022

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • Physics and Astronomy(all)


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