, Volume 13, Issue 1, pp 3-16

RET/PTC rearrangement in thyroid tumors

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Rearrangement of the RET gene, also known as RET/PTC rearrangement, is the most common genetic alteration identified to date in thyroid papillary carcinomas. The prevalence of RET/PTC in papillary carcinomas shows significant geographic variation and is approx 35% in North America. RET/PTC is more common in tumors in children and young adults, and in papillary carcinomas associated with radiation exposure. There are at least 10 different types of RET/PTC, all resulting from the fusion of the tyrosine kinase domain of RET to the 5′ portion of different genes. RET/PTC1 and RET/PTC3 are the most common types, accounting for >90% of all rearrangements. There is some evidence that different types of RET/PTC may be associated with distinct biologic properties of papillary carcinomas. RET/PTC1 tends to be more common in tumors with typical papillary growth and microcarcinomas and to have a more benign clinical course, whereas RET/PTC3 in some populations shows a strong correlation with the solid variant of papillary carcinoma and more aggressive tumor behavior. RET/PTC has recently been found in hyalinizing trabecular adenomas of the thyroid gland, providing molecular evidence in favor of this tumor to be a variant of papillary carcinoma. The occurrence of RET/PTC in Hashimoto thyroiditis and thyroid follicular adenomas and hyperplastic nodules reported in several studies has not been confirmed in other observations and remains controversial.