Plasma circulating tumour-specific microRNAs (miRNAs) are promising biomarkers of tumour presence and recurrence, especially for diseases whose best chance of successful treatment requires early diagnosis and timely surgery of an already malignant but not yet invasive tumour, such as colorectal cancer (CRC).
Expression levels of miRNAs previously found to be differently expressed in tumour vs normal colon tissues were investigated by quantitative real-time PCR in plasma from CRC patients and from healthy donors and confirmed in independent case control series. The validated miRNAs were also measured after surgery. Analyses were repeated on the subsets of haemolysis-free samples.
We identified four miRNAs differently expressed between the compared groups, two (miR-21 and miR-378) of which were validated. miR-378 expression decreased in non-relapsed patients 4–6 months after surgery and miR-378 ability to discriminate CRC patients from healthy individuals was not influenced by haemolysis levels of plasma samples.
The miRNA analysis on plasma samples represents a useful non-invasive tool to assess CRC presence as well as tumour-free status at follow-up. Plasma levels of miR-378 could be used to discriminate CRC patients from healthy individuals, irrespective of the level of haemoglobin of plasma samples.
colorectal cancer; plasma; tumour-related circulating miRNA; early diagnosis; tumour recurrence; haemolysis free
The 2014 OECI Oncology Days was held at the ‘Prof. Dr. Ion Chiricuta’ Oncology Institute in Cluj, Romania, from 12 to 13 June. The focus of this year’s gathering was on developments in personalised medicine and other treatment advances which have made the cost of cancer care too high for many regions throughout Europe.
comprehensive cancer centres; accreditation; designation; personalized medicine; organisation
Smoking cessation is necessary to reach a higher quality of life, and, for a cancer patient, it represents an important step in improving the outcome of both prognosis and therapy. Being a cancer patient addicted to nicotine may be a critical situation. We conducted a survey to monitor how many comprehensive cancer centres in Italy have an outpatient smoker clinic and which kinds of resources are available. We also inquired about inpatient services offering psychological and pharmacological support for smoking cessation, reduction, or care of acute nicotine withdrawal symptoms. What we have witnessed is a significant gap between guidelines and services. Oncologists and cancer nurses are overscheduled, with insufficient time to engage in discussion on a problem that they do not consider directly related to cancer treatment. Furthermore, smoking habits and limited training in tobacco dependence and treatment act as an important barrier and lead to the undervaluation of smokers' needs.
Gene expression profiling has distinguished sporadic breast tumour classes with genetic and clinical differences. Less is known about the molecular classification of familial breast tumours, which are generally considered to be less heterogeneous. Here, we describe molecular signatures that define BRCA1 subclasses depending on the expression of the gene encoding for oestrogen receptor, ESR1.
For this purpose, we have used the Oncochip v2, a cancer-related cDNA microarray to analyze 14 BRCA1-associated breast tumours.
Signatures were found to be molecularly associated with different biological processes and transcriptional regulatory programs. The signature of ESR1-positive tumours was mainly linked to cell proliferation and regulated by ER, whereas the signature of ESR1-negative tumours was mainly linked to the immune response and possibly regulated by transcription factors of the REL/NFκB family. These signatures were then verified in an independent series of familial and sporadic breast tumours, which revealed a possible prognostic value for each subclass. Over-expression of immune response genes seems to be a common feature of ER-negative sporadic and familial breast cancer and may be associated with good prognosis. Interestingly, the ESR1-negative tumours were substratified into two groups presenting slight differences in the magnitude of the expression of immune response transcripts and REL/NFκB transcription factors, which could be dependent on the type of BRCA1 germline mutation.
This study reveals the molecular complexity of BRCA1 breast tumours, which are found to display similarities to sporadic tumours, and suggests possible prognostic implications.
gene expression profiling; BRCA1-associated tumours; prognosis
The thyroid TRK-T3 oncogene, produced by a chromosomal translocation, is a chimeric, constitutively activated version of the NTRK1/NGF receptor and it is able to transform NIH3T3 cells and differentiate PC12 cells. TRK-T3 oncoprotein triggers multiple signal transduction pathways. Among others, TRK-T3 binds and phosphorylates the Shc and SNT1/FRS2 adaptor proteins both involved in coupling the receptor tyrosine kinase to the mitogen-activated protein kinase pathway by recruiting Grb2/SOS. We were interested in defining the role of Shc in the oncogenesis by TRK-T3. The mutation of TRK-T3 tyrosine 291, docking site for both Shc and FRS2, abrogates the oncogene biological activity. To directly explore the role of Shc we used the ShcY317F mutant, which carries the mutation of a tyrosine residue involved in Grb2 recruitment. We demonstrated that the ShcY317F mutant exerts an inhibitory effect on TRK-T3 transforming activity. Such effect can be modulated by the amount of ShcY317F protein and affects the viability of cells expressing TRK-T3 by means of a mechanism involving apoptosis. Our results indicate a definitive role of the adaptor protein Shc in TRK-T3 transforming activity.
British Journal of Cancer (2002) 87, 645–653. doi:10.1038/sj.bjc.6600544 www.bjcancer.com
© 2002 Cancer Research UK
TRK-T3; Shc; NTRK1; signal transduction; transforming activity
A case series of 64 synovial sarcomas was characterized for the SYT-SSX fusion transcripts and statistically analysed in order to correlate molecular data with prognosis and morphology. SYT-SSX1 fusion transcript appeared to be an independent, though not reaching statistical significance (P = 0.183), prognostic factor clearly associated with a reduced metastasis-free survival. Regarding the association between transcript type and histologic subtype we found, a borderline P value (P = 0.067) between the SYT-SSX1 transcript and the biphasic subtype which, subsequently expanding the analysis to 70 cases, turned out to be significant. However, we could not confirm the prediction value of the biphasic subtype for the presence of the SYT-SSX1 transcript since in our hands 6 out 33 (18%) biphasic tumours carried the SYT-SSX2 transcript.© 2001 Cancer Research Campaign http://www.bjcancer.com
synovial sarcoma; fusion transcripts; morphology; prognosis
We describe the Multiple-Dye Cleavase Fragment Length Polymorphism (MD-CFLP) method set up for a sensitive and preliminary rapid screening of BRCA1 mutations. We analysed exons 11 and 16, which are known to cover slightly more than 70% of the whole coding region of the gene, subdivided into 4 amplicons and labelled with different fluorescent dUTPs. MD-CFLP was first utilised on a panel of 30 DNA samples in which the presence of single-base substitutions or small deletions/insertions had been previously identified by direct sequencing as gold standard, in order to define the optimal conditions in terms of PCR amplification and temperature of digestion. In a second step, we blindly analysed 21 DNA samples by MD-CFLP to verify its reliability. The sensitivity and specificity of MD-CFLP were both 100% in the first study, and 80% and 94%, respectively, in the blind sample assay. Our results demonstrate the capability of the MD-CFLP method to detect DNA sequence alterations in fragments of more than 1 kb. We conclude that CFLP is a powerful tool in mutational analysis, offering reliable results in a shorter time and at a lower cost than conventional methods, and its potential can be enhanced when internal fluorescent labelling and laser detection are used. © 2001 Cancer Research Campaignhttp://www.bjcancer.com
mutational analysis; hereditary breast cancer; BRCA1; CFLP
Physical interaction between CDKN2A/p16 and CDK4 proteins regulates the cell cycle progression through the G1 phase and dysfunction of these proteins by gene mutation is implicated in genetic predisposition to melanoma. We analysed 15 Italian melanoma families for germ line mutations in the coding region of the CDKN2A gene and exon 2 of the CDK4 gene. One novel disease-associated mutation (P48T), 3 known pathological mutations (R24P, G101W and N71S) and 2 common polymorphisms (A148T and Nt500 G>C) were identified in the CDKN2A gene. In a family harbouring the R24P mutation, an intronic variant (IVS1, +37 G>C) of uncertain significance was detected in a non-carrier melanoma case. The overall incidence of CDKN2A mutations was 33.3%, but this percentage was higher in families with 3 or more melanoma cases (50%) than in those with only 2 affected relatives (25%). Noteworthy, functional analysis established that the novel mutated protein, while being impaired in cell growth and inhibition assays, retains some in vitro binding to CDK4/6. No variant in the p16-binding region of CDK4 was identified in our families. Our results, obtained in a heterogeneous group of families, support the view that inactivating mutations of CDKN2A contribute to melanoma susceptibility more than activating mutations of CDK4 and that other genetic factors must be responsible for melanoma clustering in a high proportion of families. In addition, they indicate the need for a combination of functional assays to determine the pathogenetic nature of new CDKN2A mutations. http://www.bjcancer.com © 2001 Cancer Research Campaignhttp://www.bjcancer.com
familial melanoma; CDKN2A and CDK4 genes; germ line mutations
In a previous immunophenotypic molecular-based analysis it was shown that bcl2 over-expression characterizes the SS gene profile in addition to the non-random translocations. Here we show that the over-expression of an additional potentially antiapoptotic gene, the c-KIT gene, is associated with this tumour. Interestingly, whereas bcl2 over-expression appears to be restricted to the spindle cell tumoral component, c-kit mainly involves the epithelial component of biphasic SS. Twenty-three primary and metastatic samples from 21 patients were analysed by immunophenotyping (23/23), immunoprecipitations and Western blotting (3/23), and RT-PCR (23/23). Ten cases were biphasic and 13 monophasic in sub-type. Twelve, 10 and 1 case carried the SYT-SSX1, SYT-SSX2 and SYT-SSX4 fusion transcript, respectively. Co-presence of both c-Kit and SCF mRNA was observed in almost all cases (20/23), suggesting the occurrence of an autocrine loop. Immunophenotyping, confirmed by biochemical analyses, showed a modulation of c-Kit expression which was faint in the spindle and strong in the epithelial component, respectively. The study was complemented by c-Met/HGF receptor/ligand expression and c-Met protein analysis with results superimposable to those already reported. Since in each tumour, epithelial and spindle cell components harbour the same type of translocation t(X;18) the present findings suggest a shifting of the anti-apoptotic role from BCL2 to c-KIT gene during the transition from the uncommitted spindle to the differentiated epithelial cells. © 2001 Cancer Research Campaign http://www.bjcancer.com
synovial sarcoma; RT-PCR; c-KIT/SCF; anti-apoptotic gene
Synovial sarcoma (SS) is cytogenetically characterized by the translocation t(X;18)(p11.2-q11.2) generating a fusion between the SYT gene on chromosome 18 and one member of the SSX family gene (SSX1; SSX2; SSX4) on chromosome X. Here, we report for the first time that 2 forms of SYT mRNA are present in both normal tissues and SSs. By amplifying the full-length SYT cDNA of two SSs, we detected 2 bands, here designated N-SYT and I-SYT. The latter, previously undescribed, contains an in-frame insertion of 93 bp. Its sequencing revealed a 100% homology with the mouse SYT gene. These two SYT forms were present, although in different amounts, in all human normal tissues examined, including kidney, stomach, lung, colon, liver and synovia. Coexistence of N-SYT and I-SYT (both fused with SSX) was detected in a series of 59 SSs (35 monophasic and 24 biphasic) and in a SS cell line. A preliminary analysis of the differential expression levels of N-SYT and I-SYT in SSs revealed that the latter was consistently overexpressed, suggesting a role in SS pathogenesis. © 2001 Cancer Research Campaign http://www.bjcancer.com
synovial sarcoma; fusion transcript; RT-PCR analysis; alternative splicing event
ATM (ataxia-telangiectasia mutated) gene plays a central role in the DNA-damage response pathway. We characterized the ATM protein expression in immortalized cells from AT and AT-variant patients, and heterozygotes and correlated it with two ATM-dependent radiation responses, G1 checkpoint arrest and p53-Ser 15 phosphorylation. On Western blots, the full-length ATM protein was detected in eight of 18 AT cases, albeit at 1–32% of the normal levels, whereas a truncated ATM protein was detected in a single case, despite the prevalence among cases of truncation mutations. Of two ataxia without telangiectasia [A-(T)] cases, one expressed 20% and the other ~70% of the normal ATM levels. Noteworthy, among ten asymptomatic heterozygous carriers for AT, normal amounts of ATM protein were found in one and reduced by 40–50% in the remaining cases. The radiation-induced phosphorylation of p53 protein at serine 15, largely mediated by ATM kinase, was defective in AT, A(-T) and in 2/4 heterozygous carriers, while the G1 cell cycle checkpoint was disrupted in all AT and A(-T) cases, and in 3/10 AT heterozygotes. Altogether, our study shows that AT and A(-T) cases bearing truncation mutations of the ATM gene can produce modest amounts of full-length (and only rarely truncated) ATM protein. However, this limited expression of ATM protein provides no benefit regarding the ATM-dependent responses related to G1 arrest and p53-ser15 phosphorylation. Our study additionally shows that the majority of AT heterozygotes express almost halved levels of ATM protein, sufficient in most cases to normally regulate the ATM-dependent DNA damage-response pathway. © 2000 Cancer Research Campaign
ataxia-telangiectasia; ATM; cell cycle
Ordinary lipomas are cytogenetically characterized by a variety of balanced rearrangements involving chromosome segment 12q13–15, whereas well differentiated liposarcomas (WDL) show supernumerary ring and giant marker chromosomes, known to contain amplified 12q sequences. The tight correlation between the presence of ring chromosomes and both amplification and overexpression of MDM2 and CDK4 genes suggests the exploration of the possibility that immunocytochemistry (ICC) might assist in the differential diagnosis of lipoma-like well differentiated liposarcomas (LL-WDL) and large deep-seated lipomas (LDSL). For this purpose, 21 cases of the former and 19 cases of the latter tumours were analysed by ICC and, according to the availability of material, by molecular and cytogenetic approaches. All lipomas displayed a null MDM2/CDK4 phenotype, whereas all LL-WDL showed MDM2/CDK4 or CDK4 phenotypes. Southern blot analysis performed on 16 suitable cases, complemented by fluorescence in situ hybridization and classical cytogenetic analysis in 11 cases, was consistent with, and further supported the immunophenotyping data. In conclusion, MDM2/CDK4 product-based immunophenotyping appears to represent a valuable method for the categorization of arguable LDSL. © 2000 Cancer Research Campaign
MDM2; CDK4; lipoma; liposarcoma lipoma-like; differential diagnosis
Esthesioneuroblastoma (ENB) is a rare, site-specific, locally aggressive neuronal malignancy so far thought to belong to primitive peripheral neuroectodermal tumour-Ewing's tumour (pPNETs-ETs). Its anatomical location, in addition to morphologic, immunophenotypic and ultrastructural features, suggests its origin in the neuronal or neuroendocrine cells of the olfactory epithelium. However, the cytogenetic and molecular data currently available appear controversial on the presence of the typical translocation t(11;22)(q24;q12) and of trisomy 8, chromosomal changes that characterize the tumours belonging to the pPNETs-ETs. Herein we have analysed five ENB tumour specimens for trisomy 8 by fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH), for the presence of EWS gene rearrangements by FISH, reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction and Southern blot analyses, as well as for the expression of the Ewing sarcoma-associated MIC2 antigen by immunohistochemistry. Neither EWS/FLI-I, EWS/ERG and EWS/FEV fusion genes nor MIC2 expression were found in any tumour, whereas trisomy 8 was found in one case only. Moreover, DNA from three cases analysed by Southern blot did not show EWS gene rearrangements. Our results support the evidence that ENB is not a member of the pPNETs-ETs. © 1999 Cancer Research Campaign
esthesioneuroblastoma; pPNETs-ETs; molecular analysis; distinct entity
Recent preclinical and clinical data suggest that TP53 status and TP53 mutations may be important in determining tumour aggressiveness and therapy response. In this study we investigate the feasibility of a structural and quantitative analysis of TP53 on fine-needle aspiration (FNA) material obtained from 31 consecutive female patients with breast carcinoma, enrolled in a primary chemotherapy protocol. Tumours were screened for p53 protein overexpression and TP53 mutations (exons 5-8) using immunocytochemistry, polymerase chain reaction-single-strand conformation polymorphism (PCR-SSCP) and DNA sequencing analyses, and finally using fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH) analysis. Positive nuclear staining was identified in six cases whereas mutations were detected in nine. Although the immunoreactive pattern fitted fully with the characterized TP53 mutation type, the considerable number of null p53 mutations (i.e. four) coupled with the lack of information regarding the localization of TP53 mutations make immunocytochemistry an inadequate indicator of TP53 function deregulation. Combining molecular and FISH analyses, we detected three cases with TP53 deletion and one case with deletion and mutation. Finally, DNA static-image analysis performed on 29 cases showed aneuploidy in 26 cases, which included all TP53-mutated cases. The present results show that FNA may assist clinical decisions by allowing the evaluation of a variety of biological parameters relevant for prognosis and treatment planning.
Desmoids are locally aggressive, non-metastasizing soft-tissue tumours, whose aetiology is still unclear. In patients affected with familial adenomatous polyposis (FAP), the incidence of desmoids is much higher than in the general population. The APC gene, which is responsible for FAP, is involved in the development of desmoids associated with this syndrome. In this study 16 sporadic and four FAP-related desmoids were analysed in order to investigate the possible involvement of APC in non-syndromic cases also. The 5' end (exons 1-11) and the coding portion of exon 15 of APC were screened using the in vitro synthesized-protein assay (IVSP). Exons 5, 6, 8-14, and a region of exon 15 spanning codons 1036-1634 were investigated by single-strand conformation polymorphism (SSCP) analysis. APC germline mutations were identified in all FAP patients, but not in sporadic cases. Somatic mutations were found in three FAP-associated desmoids (75%) and two sporadic tumours (12.5%). In one of the latter cases, both alleles were affected. These findings indicate a limited role of the gene in the development of desmoid tumours outside FAP.
Lung cancer is strictly associated with tobacco smoking. Tumours developed in non-smoking subjects account for less than 10% of all lung cancers and show peculiar histopathological features, being prevalently adenocarcinomas. A number of genetic data suggest that their biological behaviour may be different from that of lung tumours caused by smoking, however the number of cases investigated to date is too low to draw definitive conclusions. We have examined the status of p53 and K-ras genes and the presence of loss of heterozygosity (LOH) at the FHIT locus in a series of 35 lung adenocarcinomas that developed in subjects who had never smoked. Results were compared with those obtained in a series of 35 lung adenocarcinomas from heavy-smoking subjects. In the group of non-smoking subjects p53 mutations and LOH at the FHIT locus were present in seven (20%) cases, and the two alterations were constantly associated (P < 0.0001), whereas they were not related in the series of carcinomas caused by smoking. In tumours developed in heavy-smoking subjects, the frequency of LOH at the FHIT locus was significantly higher (P = 0.006) than in tumours from non-smoking subjects. The frequency of p53 mutations in adenocarcinomas caused by smoking was not different from that seen in non-smoking subjects. However, in the group of smoking subjects we observed mostly G:C --> T:A transversions, whereas frameshift mutations and G:C --> A:T transitions were more frequently found in tumours from non-smoking subjects. No point mutations of the K-ras gene at codon 12 were seen in subjects who had never smoked, whereas they were present (mostly G:C --> T:A transversions) in 34% of tumours caused by smoking (P = 0.002). Our data suggest that lung adenocarcinomas developed in subjects who had never smoked represent a distinct biological entity involving a co-alteration of the p53 gene and the FHIT locus in 20% of cases.
In two cases of suspected myxoid liposarcoma, where chromosomal metaphase preparations were not available, fluorescence in situ hybridisation was performed on interphase nuclei of cytological preparations for the detection of the specific translocation, t(12;16), characteristic of this tumour and of trisomy 8, which is the most frequent secondary chromosome aberration. Probes directed against chromosomes 12 and 16 and against the centromeres of chromosomes 12 and 8 were hybridised on cell brushings and cytocentrifuge preparations. The finding of three painting domains of both chromosomes 12 and 16 and of only two signals with the centromeric probe directed against chromosome 12, suggested the presence of t(12;16) in both cases. In one case trisomy 8 was inferred from the occurrence of three centromere 8 signals. This approach can be used to detect specific chromosomal abnormalities when an urgent differential diagnosis is requested or when chromosome preparations are not available, or both.
fluorescence in situ hybridisation; chromosomal metaphase preparations; myxoid liposarcoma
RET/PTC oncogenes, generated by chromosomal rearrangements in papillary thyroid carcinomas, are constitutively activated versions of proto-RET, a gene coding for a receptor-type tyrosine kinase (TK) whose ligand is still unknown. RET/PTCs encode fusion proteins in which proto-RET TK and C-terminal domains are fused to different donor genes. The respective Ret/ptc oncoproteins display constitutive TK activity and tyrosine phosphorylation. We found that Ret/ptcs associate with and phosphorylate the SH2-containing transducer phospholipase Cgamma (PLCgamma). Two putative PLCgamma docking sites, Tyr-505 and Tyr-539, have been identified on Ret/ptc2 by competition experiments using phosphorylated peptides modelled on Ret sequence. Transfection experiments and biochemical analysis using Tyr-->Phe mutants of Ret/ptc2 allowed us to rule out Tyr-505 and to identify Tyr-539 as a functional PLCgamma docking site in vivo. Moreover, kinetic measurements showed that Tyr-539 is able to mediate high-affinity interaction with PLCgamma. Mutation of Tyr-539 resulted in a drastically reduced oncogenic activity of Ret/ptc2 on NIH 3T3 cells (75 to 90% reduction) both in vitro and in vivo, which correlates with impaired ability of Ret/ptc2 to activate PLCgamma. In conclusion, this paper demonstrates that Tyr-539 of Ret/ptc2 (Tyr-761 on the proto-RET product) is an essential docking site for the full transforming potential of the oncogene. In addition, the present data identify PLCgamma as a downstream effector of Ret/ptcs and suggest that this transducing molecule could play a crucial role in neoplastic signalling triggered by Ret/ptc oncoproteins.
Oncogenic rearrangements of the NTRK1 gene (also designated TRKA), encoding one of the receptors for the nerve growth factor, are frequently detected in thyroid carcinomas. Such rearrangements fuse the NTRK1 tyrosine kinase domain to 5'-end sequences belonging to different genes. In previously reported studies we have demonstrated that NTRK1 oncogenic activation involves two genes, TPM3 and TPR, both localized similarly to the receptor tyrosine kinase, on the q arm of chromosome 1. Here we report the characterization of a novel NTRK1-derived thyroid oncogene, named TRK-T3. A cDNA clone, capable of transforming activity, was isolated from a transformant cell line. Sequence analysis revealed that TRK-T3 contains 1,412 nucleotides of NTRK1 preceded by 598 nucleotides belonging to a novel gene that we have named TFG (TRK-fused gene). The TRK-T3 amino acid sequence displays, within the TFG region, a coiled-coil motif that could endow the oncoprotein with the capability to form complexes. The TRK-T3 oncogene encodes a 68-kDa cytoplasmic protein reacting with NTRK1-specific antibodies. By sedimentation gradient experiments the TRK-T3 oncoprotein was shown to form, in vivo, multimeric complexes, most likely trimers or tetramers. The TFG gene is ubiquitously expressed and is located on chromosome 3. The breakpoint producing the TRK-T3 oncogene occurs within exons of both the TFG gene and the NTRK1 gene and produces a chimeric exon that undergoes alternative splicing. Molecular analysis of the NTRK1 rearranged fragments indicated that the chromosomal rearrangement is reciprocal and balanced and involves loss of a few nucleotides of germ line sequences.
The p53 gene was analyzed in tumor specimens obtained from 52 patients with various types of carcinoma of the thyroid gland by a combined molecular and immunocytochemical approach. The histologic types included 37 well-differentiated papillary and follicular carcinomas, 8 poorly differentiated, and 7 undifferentiated carcinomas. The p53 gene was shown to be unaffected in all differentiated tumors by single-strand conformation polymorphism analysis. However, in two out of eight (25%) of poorly differentiated carcinomas and five out of seven (71%) undifferentiated carcinomas, p53 mutations were identified and subsequently characterized by DNA sequencing. One undifferentiated carcinoma displayed two areas with varying degrees of differentiation. The comparative analysis of the p53 gene, in both the more and the less differentiated area of this tumor, clearly showed that the p53 mutation was confined to the latter component of the tumor specimen. These results indicate that mutations of the p53 gene are associated with the most aggressive histologic types of thyroid tumors, such as the undifferentiated carcinoma and, to a certain extent, the poorly differentiated carcinoma, and that the alterations of this gene represent a late genetic event in human thyroid carcinogenesis.
The ret oncogene frequently has been found activated in papillary thyroid carcinomas. A previous characterization of ret activation revealed recombination of its tyrosine kinase domain and sequences derived from an uncharacterized locus (D10S170). The mechanism leading to this recombination was identified as a paracentric inversion of the long arm of chromosome 10, inv(10)(q11.2q21), with the breakpoints occurring where ret and D10S170 were mapped. To further characterize the activation of ret in papillary thyroid carcinomas, we have now isolated and sequenced a second type of ret oncogenic rearrangement not involving the D10S170 locus. The nucleotide sequence indicated that the transforming activity was created by the fusion of the ret tyrosine kinase domain with part of the RI alpha regulatory subunit of protein kinase A (PKA). This is the first example of an oncogenic activity involving a PKA gene. PKA is the main intracellular cyclic AMP receptor, and its RI alpha subunit gene is located on chromosome 17q. RI alpha-ret transcripts encode two isoforms of the chimeric protein (p76 and p81), which display constitutive tyrosine phosphorylation as well as a tyrosine kinase enzymatic activity. Under nonreducing conditions, both isoforms are found in a dimeric configuration because of both homo- and heterodimer formation. Thus, the in vivo activation of ret in human papillary thyroid carcinomas is provided by the fusion of its tyrosine kinase domain with different genes and can be mediated by different mechanisms of gene rearrangement.
We have recently reported the activation of a new oncogene in human papillary thyroid carcinomas. This oncogene, papillary thyroid carcinoma (PTC), is a novel rearranged version of the ret tyrosine-kinase protooncogene. Thyroid neoplasms include a broad spectrum of malignant tumors, ranging from well-differentiated tumors to undifferentiated anaplastic carcinomas. To determine the frequency of ret oncogene activation, we analyzed 286 cases of human thyroid tumors of diverse histologic types. We found the presence of an activated form of the ret oncogene in 33 (19%) of 177 papillary carcinomas. By contrast, none of the other 109 thyroid tumors, which included 37 follicular, 15 anaplastic, and 18 medullary carcinomas, and 34 benign lesions, showed ret activation.
A cytogenetic study was performed in 27 patients suspected of t-MDS or t-ANLL. In 12 patients the diagnosis of t-MDS or t-ANLL was confirmed by morphological, cytochemical and immunophenotypical analysis. The cases were classified as RA (one), RAEB (four), CMML (two), ANLL (five). They had received chemotherapy and/or RT for Hodgkin's disease (eight cases), solid tumours (three cases) and multiple myeloma (one case). Clonal chromosome abnormalities were found in bone marrow or peripheral blood cells in all the 12 cases. Five patients had a clonal abnormality of chromosome no. 5 (monosomy, deletions, translocation and inversion of 5q). The critical region on chromosome no. 5 comprised bands q12-q34. Monosomy and deletion of chromosome 7q was observed in the other two patients. In the six remaining patients various karyotypic patterns were observed including a t(4;11) (q21;q23) in one case, monosomies (four cases) and trisomies (one case) of different chromosomes. In the other 15 cases, the presence of a normal karyotype together with the morphological and immunophenotypical characterisation was consistent with a diagnosis of non-neoplastic specimens.
We have performed an analysis of ras, c-myc, c-myb, c-erbB1 and c-erbB2 oncogenes in 100 surgical samples of human breast carcinomas. No point mutations have been detected at the 12th codon of c-Ha-ras and c-Ki-ras in 40 and 65 breast cancer DNAs, respectively. One out of 65 samples showed a 50-fold amplification of c-Ha-ras that, however, was not overexpressed. Alterations in the structure of c-myc, c-myb c-erbB1 and c-erbB2 oncogenes were sporadically observed. In 20 tumour samples, the study of expression of a series of oncogenes revealed that c-Ha-ras was the predominantly transcribed gene among the ras gene family whereas c-fos appeared the most constantly and significantly expressed nuclear oncogene.