RET/PTC rearrangement in thyroid tumors

Endocr Pathol. 2002 Spring;13(1):3-16. doi: 10.1385/ep:13:1:03.


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.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Carcinoma, Papillary / epidemiology
  • Carcinoma, Papillary / genetics*
  • Drosophila Proteins*
  • Gene Rearrangement*
  • Humans
  • Oncogene Proteins, Fusion / genetics
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins / genetics*
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-ret
  • Receptor Protein-Tyrosine Kinases / genetics*
  • Thyroid Neoplasms / epidemiology
  • Thyroid Neoplasms / genetics*


  • Drosophila Proteins
  • Oncogene Proteins, Fusion
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-ret
  • Receptor Protein-Tyrosine Kinases
  • Ret protein, Drosophila