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Screening of variants unknown significance (VUS) in the RET gene in control individuals and patients with medullary thyroid carcinoma

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Roxanne Hatanaka
Total Authors: 1
Document type: Master's Dissertation
Press: São Paulo.
Institution: Universidade de São Paulo (USP). Faculdade de Medicina (FM/SBD)
Defense date:
Examining board members:
Sergio Pereira de Almeida Toledo; Ana Amélia Fialho de Oliveira Hoff; Suemi Marui
Advisor: Sergio Pereira de Almeida Toledo

Introduction: Multiple endocrine neoplasia type 2 (MEN-2) is a tumor syndrome with autosomal dominant inheritance, in which tumors are associated with medullary thyroid carcinoma (MTC), pheochromocytoma (FEO) and primary hyperparathyroidism (HPT). This syndrome occurs due to activating mutations in the RET proto-oncogene, which lead to constitutive activation of tyrosine kinase signaling pathways that deregulate the cell cycle. According to the International Consensus on MTC/MEN-2 of 2001 and 2009 one should recommend that RET mutation carriers, including asymptomatic individuals, should undergo prophylactic total thyroidectomy (TT), increasing the chance of cure of the disease. It is not recommended clinical screening in patients that show only isolated polymorphisms (non-pathogenic variant). However, there are individuals who carry genetic variants of unknown clinical significance (VUS), generating doubt about the best clinical management. Currently, there is no consistent knowledge whether these variants may or may not be involved with the increased risk to MTC. The present project has approached the several aspects of these VUS, such as the allele frequency, in silico pathogenic prediction, published data and public databases, in order to increase our knowledge about VUS, in an attempt to contribute by offering appropriate clinical management to VUS carriers. Objective: To expand the knowledge of the pathogenic potential of some of the VUS of the RET gene, focusing especially on the controversial genetic variant p.Y791F. Methods: We performed the mutation screening of hotspots exons of the RET gene of DNA samples of 2061 adult/elderly healthy individuals and of patients with CMT by Sanger sequencing and Next Generation Sequencing (NGS) techniques. Pathogenic predictions of the studied variants were generated using six genetic softwares. Allelic frequency of RET VUS was assessed in different public databanks. Results: Genetic screening of control samples identified the presence of p.Y791N, p.Y791F and p.E511K germline variants. Patients with MTC carrying p.V648I and p.K666N germline variants were localized and family members were screened and clinically investigated. In addition, a new case with pheochromocytoma was found to carry the p.Y791F germline variant. The in silico analyses showed that 4 out of 6 packages were more informative, suggesting physico-chemical structure alteration caused by 25 out of 48 RET VUS. Very low allele frequencies were found in the public databases including healthy individuals and tumor samples. In vitro studies have been performed only for 15 out of 48 RET VUS. Conclusion: Our data strongly suggest that the p.Y791F variant, when occurring in an isolated form, is a benign polymorphism not associated with increased risk of MTC. Conversely, its co-occurrence with bona fide RET mutations as C634Y may lead to modulation of the phenotype, as increasing the frequencies of large and bilateral pheochromocytomas in MEN2A families. Family members carrying the p.V648I variant isolate have been followed clinically for approximately 15 years. As no indication of MCT, pheochromocytoma or hyperparathyroidism development has been documented, we conclude that this variant is a rare RET benign polymorphism. More information is needed to a better characterization of other VUS as E511K, K666N and Y791N. Thus, carriers with these variants should be necessarily examined through a periodic clinical follow up (AU)

FAPESP's process: 13/00920-2 - Screening of variants of unkown significance (VUS) in the RET proto-oncogene in patients with multiple endocrine neoplasia type 2 and healthy individual controls
Grantee:Roxanne Hatanaka
Support Opportunities: Scholarships in Brazil - Master