Identifying novel oncogenic RET mutations and characterising their sensitivity to RET-specific inhibitors

J Med Genet. 2020 Apr 13;jmedgenet-2019-106546. doi: 10.1136/jmedgenet-2019-106546. Online ahead of print.


Background: Rearranged during transfection (RET) is a well-known proto-oncogene. Multiple RET oncogenic alterations have been identified, including fusions and mutations. Although RET fusions have been reported in multiple cancers, RET mutations were mainly found in multiple endocrine neoplasia type 2 and medullary thyroid carcinoma. RET mutations in other cancers were underinvestigated and their functional annotation was less well studied.

Methods: We retrospectively reviewed next-generation sequencing data from 37 056 patients with cancer to search for RET mutations. We excluded patients with other co-occurring known driver mutations to enrich potential activating RET mutations for further analysis. Moreover, we performed in vitro functional validation of the oncogenic property of several high frequent and novel RET mutants and their sensitivity to RET-specific inhibitors LOXO-292 and BLU-667.

Results: Within 560 (1.5%) patients with cancer who harbour RET mutations, we identified 380 distinct RET mutation sites, including 252 sites without co-occurring driver mutations. RET mutations were more frequently found in thyroid cancer, mediastinal tumour and several other cancers. The mutation sites spread out through the whole protein with a few hotspots within the kinase domain. In addition, we functionally validated that 898-901del, T930P and T930K were novel RET-activating mutations and they were all sensitive to RET inhibitors.

Conclusion: Our results demonstrated the frequency of RET mutations across different cancers. We reported and/or validated several previously uncharacterised RET oncogenic mutations and demonstrated their sensitivity to RET-specific inhibitors. Our results help to stratify patients with cancer based on their RET mutation status and potentially provide more targeted treatment options.

Keywords: RET mutation, next-generation sequencing, LOXO-292, BLU-667.