Context: Genetic abnormalities, such as those of multiple endocrine neoplasia type 1 (MEN1) and Cyclin D1 (CCND1) genes, occur in <50% of nonhereditary (sporadic) parathyroid adenomas.
Objective: To identify genetic abnormalities in nonhereditary parathyroid adenomas by whole-exome sequence analysis.
Design: Whole-exome sequence analysis was performed on parathyroid adenomas and leukocyte DNA samples from 16 postmenopausal women without a family history of parathyroid tumors or MEN1 and in whom primary hyperparathyroidism due to single-gland disease was cured by surgery. Somatic variants confirmed in this discovery set were assessed in 24 other parathyroid adenomas.
Results: Over 90% of targeted exons were captured and represented by more than 10 base reads. Analysis identified 212 somatic variants (median eight per tumor; range, 2-110), with the majority being heterozygous nonsynonymous single-nucleotide variants that predicted missense amino acid substitutions. Somatic MEN1 mutations occurred in six of 16 (∼35%) parathyroid adenomas, in association with loss of heterozygosity on chromosome 11. However, no other gene was mutated in more than one tumor. Mutations in several genes that may represent low-frequency driver mutations were identified, including a protection of telomeres 1 (POT1) mutation that resulted in exon skipping and disruption to the single-stranded DNA-binding domain, which may contribute to increased genomic instability and the observed high mutation rate in one tumor.
Conclusions: Parathyroid adenomas typically harbor few somatic variants, consistent with their low proliferation rates. MEN1 mutation represents the major driver in sporadic parathyroid tumorigenesis although multiple low-frequency driver mutations likely account for tumors not harboring somatic MEN1 mutations.