Specific pattern of RAS oncogene mutations in follicular thyroid tumors

J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2003 Jun;88(6):2745-52. doi: 10.1210/jc.2002-021186.


The prevalence of H-RAS, K-RAS, and N-RAS gene mutations in thyroid tumors according to malignancy and histology is controversial. Differences in methodology and histological classifications may explain discrepant results. To address this issue, we first performed a pooled analysis of 269 mutations garnered from 39 previous studies. Mutations proved significantly less frequent when detected with direct sequencing than without (12.3% vs. 17%). The rate of mutation involving N-RAS exon 1 (N1) and K-RAS exon 2 (K2) was less than 1%. Mutations of codon 61 of N-RAS (N2) were significantly more frequent in follicular tumors (19%) than in papillary cancers (5%) and significantly more frequent in malignant (25%) than in benign (14%) tumors. H-RAS mutations in codons 12/13 (H1) were found in 2-3% of all types of tumors, but H-RAS mutations in codon 61 (H2) were observed in only 1.4% of tumors, and almost all of them were malignant. K-RAS mutations in exon 1 were found more often in papillary than follicular cancers (2.7% vs. 1.6%) and were sometimes correlated with special epidemiological circumstances. The second part of this study involved analysis of 80 follicular tumors from patients living in Marseille (France) and Kiev (Ukraine). We used direct sequencing after PCR amplification of exons 1 and 2 of the three RAS genes. Common and atypical adenomas were separated using strict cytological criteria. Mutations of H1-RAS were found in 12.5% of common adenomas and one follicular carcinoma (2.9%). Mutations of N2-RAS occurred in 23.3% and 17.6% of atypical adenomas and follicular carcinomas, respectively. These results confirm the predominance of N2-RAS mutations in thyroid follicular tumors and their correlation with malignancy. They support the implication of N2-RAS mutations in the malignant progression of thyroid follicular tumors and the assumption that some atypical adenomas are precursors of follicular carcinomas.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adenocarcinoma, Follicular / genetics*
  • Adenoma / genetics*
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Female
  • France
  • Genes, ras / genetics*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Mutation*
  • Thyroid Neoplasms / genetics*
  • Ukraine