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Nat Genet. 1995 May;10(1):35-40.

Loss of function effect of RET mutations causing Hirschsprung disease.

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  • 1Laboratorio di Genetica Molecolare, Istituto Giannina Gaslini, Genova Quarto, Italy.


We have introduced three Hirschsprung (HSCR) mutations localized in the tyrosine kinase domain of RET into the RET/PTC2 chimaeric oncogene which is capable of transforming NIH3T3 mouse fibroblasts and of differentiating pC12 rat pheochromocytoma cells. The three HSCR mutations abolished the biological activity of RET/PTC2 in both cell types and significantly decreased its tyrosine phosphorylation. By contrast, a rare polymorphism in exon 18 does not alter the transforming capability of RET/PTC2 or its tyrosine phosphorylation. These data suggest a loss of function effect of HSCR mutations which might act through a dominant negative mechanism. Our model system is therefore capable of discriminating between causative HSCR mutations and rare polymorphisms in the tyrosine kinase domain of RET.

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