Association of TERT Promoter Mutation, But Not BRAF Mutation, With Increased Mortality in PTC

J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2015 Dec;100(12):E1550-9. doi: 10.1210/jc.2015-2690. Epub 2015 Oct 13.


Context: Papillary thyroid carcinoma (PTC) carrying the BRAF mutation has been reported to be associated with high recurrence and potentially increased mortality. PTC carrying the TERT promoter mutation has been associated with older age, recurrence, and aggressive disease.

Objective: The objective of this study was to determine the association of BRAF and TERT promoter gene alterations with recurrence and survival in a high-risk population.

Design: Genomic DNA was analyzed for the BRAF mutation from 256 persistent/recurrent PTC (p/rPTC; 202 new, 54 previously reported) and for the TERT promoter mutation and polymorphism (242 p/rPTC). Two-tailed Fisher exact tests or the Pearson χ(2) test were performed for the associations between mutations and other variables. Overall and disease-free survivals were compared by log rank tests on Kaplan-Meier plots and by Cox regression analysis. TERT promoter constructs were tested in PTC cell lines to determine their activities in these cells.

Results: BRAF V600E mutation was identified in 235 of 256 (91.8%), TERT promoter mutation at -124 was detected in 77 of 242 (31.8%), and TERT promoter polymorphism at -245 was found in 113 of 242 (46.7%) p/rPTC patients. A significant difference in survival was found in p/rPTC patients with the TERT promoter mutation, which also displayed increased activity in vitro as compared to the nonmutated promoter sequence. No association was noted between the BRAF mutation or TERT promoter polymorphism and recurrence or survival. A drawback of our study could be the limited number of patients with nonmutated BRAF (21 of 256 [8.2%]).

Conclusions: Mutation in the TERT promoter, but not in BRAF, was associated with decreased survival in 19 (24.7%) p/rPTC patients who died of disease and in 38 (49.4%) p/rPTC patients who died at last contact. The presence or absence of the BRAF mutation and TERT promoter polymorphism, however, was not significantly correlated with survival.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Carcinoma / genetics*
  • Carcinoma / mortality*
  • Carcinoma, Papillary
  • DNA Mutational Analysis
  • Disease Progression
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Kaplan-Meier Estimate
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Mutation / genetics
  • Polymorphism, Genetic / genetics
  • Promoter Regions, Genetic
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins B-raf / genetics*
  • Recurrence
  • Survival Analysis
  • Telomerase / genetics*
  • Thyroid Cancer, Papillary
  • Thyroid Neoplasms / genetics*
  • Thyroid Neoplasms / mortality*


  • BRAF protein, human
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins B-raf
  • TERT protein, human
  • Telomerase