The RET proto-oncogene is expressed in human medullary thyroid carcinoma and pheochromocytoma. Recently germline mutations of the RET proto-oncogene were reported in four syndromes (MEN 2A, MEN 2B, familial medullary thyroid carcinoma and Hirschprung's disease) and somatic mutation was also found in sporadic medullary thyroid carcinoma. To determine the incidence of RET mutations in medullary thyroid carcinoma in Japan, we investigated 14 medullary thyroid carcinomas (comprising 1 case of MEN 2A, 1 case of MEN 2B, 2 cases of familial medullary thyroid carcinoma and 10 cases of sporadic). Tumors from all cases were screened by PCR-SSCP on exons 10 and 11. DNA sequencing on these exons was performed for the hereditary medullary thyroid carcinoma cases. The PCR products of exon 16 from tumor DNA were analyzed by means of Fok1 restriction enzyme digestion analysis and mutations confirmed by DNA sequencing. We found no structural abnormalities in either exon 10 or exon 11 in any of the cases examined, but in four of 10 sporadic cases we detected a common point mutation at codon 918 (ATG to ACG) in exon 16, where methionine was replaced with threonine. Our results support the theory that a point mutation of exon 16 of the RET proto-oncogene may be related to the oncogenesis of sporadic medullary thyroid carcinomas. However, further studies on the entire RET proto-oncogene are needed to clarify the relationship between its expression and thyroid tumorigenesis.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes