Neuroendocrine neoplasms (NENs) comprise a heterogeneous group of rare malignancies, mainly originating from hormone-secreting cells, which are widespread in human tissues. The identification of mutations in ATRX/DAXX genes in sporadic NENs, as well as the high burden of mutations scattered throughout the multiple endocrine neoplasia type 1 (MEN-1) gene in both sporadic and inherited syndromes, provided new insights into the molecular biology of tumour development. Other molecular mechanisms, such as the NOTCH signalling pathway, have shown to play an important role in the pathogenesis of NENs. NOTCH receptors are expressed on neuroendocrine cells and generally act as tumour suppressor proteins, but in some contexts can function as oncogenes. The biological heterogeneity of NENs suggests that to fully understand the role and the potential therapeutic implications of gene mutations and NOTCH signalling in NENs, a comprehensive analysis of genetic alterations, NOTCH expression patterns and their potential role across all NEN subtypes is required.
Keywords: NOTCH; cancer-driven genes; germline mutations; malignant castration-resistant prostatic cells; medullary thyroid carcinoma; mutational mechanism; neuroendocrine neoplasms; pancreatic NET; small bowel NET; small cell lung carcinoma.