Genetic analysis of RET, GFRα1 and GDNF genes in Spanish families with multiple endocrine neoplasia type 2A



Multiple endocrine neoplasia type 2A (MEN 2A) is associated with specific germline missense mutations in the RET proto-oncogene. This locus encodes a receptor tyrosine kinase whose activation requires the formation of a multimeric receptor complex including GDNF as a ligand and GFRα1 as a coreceptor. In order to explore the role of RET, GFRα1 and GDNF genes in the variation of phenotypes observed in MEN2A families, we analysed germline mutations of these genes in 4 unrelated Spanish MEN2A families (23 cases studied). We found 2 novel variants corresponding to a single change in position + 47 (intron 12) of RET and position +22 (intron 7) of GFRα1. Furthermore, we observed strong co-segregation between 2 polymorphisms of RET [G691S (exon 11) and S904S (TCC-TCG, exon 15) (100%, Fisher's exact test, p< 0.001)]. More interestingly, we found that these polymorphisms occurred at a significantly high frequency in patients with age at onset < 20 years old (Kruskal-Wallis's and Fisher's exact test, p = 0.007). These findings suggest that the G691S and S904S variants of RET may somehow play a role on the age of onset of MEN 2A. © 2002 Wiley-Liss, Inc.