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Int J Cancer. 2001 Apr 1;92(1):70-4.

Mutation analysis of NTRK2 and NTRK3, encoding 2 tyrosine kinase receptors, in sporadic human medullary thyroid carcinoma reveals novel sequence variants.

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Clinical Cancer Genetics Program, Division of Human Genetics, Department of Internal Medicine, Ohio State University, Columbus 43210, USA.


Somatic mutations in the proto-oncogene RET are found in 25% to 80% of sporadic medullary thyroid carcinomas (MTCs). The significance of somatic RET mutation in MTC initiation and progression, however, remains unknown. Like RET, TRK is a neurotrophic receptor tyrosine kinase. Immunostaining has shown that only a subset of normal C cells expresses Trk family receptors, but in C-cell hyperplasia, they consistently express NTRK2, with variable expression of NTRK1 and NTRK3. In later stages of MTC, NTRK2 expression was reduced while NTRK3 expression was increased. In the context of these data, we sought to determine whether sequence variants in NTRK2 and NTRK3 are responsible for these differences in protein expression. We determined the genomic structure of NTRK2 and found that it consists of at least 17 exons varying in size from 36 to 306 bp. Mutation analysis of sporadic MTC did not reveal any sequence variants in NTRK2 but did reveal 3 variants in NTRK3, c.573C >T (N191N, exon 5), c.678T > C (N226N, exon 6) and c.1488C > G (A496A, exon 12) occurring among 19 chromosomes (31%), 1 chromosome (2%) and 24 chromosomes (39%), respectively. Corresponding germline also harbored these variants. There was a trend toward excess association of the NTRK3 variant c.1488C > G (A496A) in cases (24/62 chromosomes, 39%) compared to controls (18/62, 29%), but this difference did not reach significance (p > 0.05). The remaining 2 NTRK3 variants occurred with similar frequencies between MTC cases and population-matched controls (19 vs. 17 and 1 vs. 0, p > 0.05). We conclude that sequence variants in NTRK2 and NTRK3 are not likely to be responsible for large differences in expression at the protein level, but we cannot exclude very low penetrance effects.

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