Gastrointestinal stromal tumors (GISTs), the most common mesenchymal tumors of the gastrointestinal tract, are characterized by activating mutations in KIT or PDGFRA genes. The vast majority of GISTs are sporadic, but rare hereditary forms have been reported, often featuring multifocality and younger age of onset. We here report the identification of a novel kindred affected by familial GIST caused by a KIT germline mutation in exon 13 (N655K). No family affected by hereditary GIST due to this KIT variant has been reported in literature so far. We were able to track the mutation in three members of the family (proband, mother, and second-degree cousin), all affected by multiple GISTs. Due to its rarity, the N655K variant is poorly characterized. We conducted in vitro drug sensitivity assays that indicated that most tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKIs) currently included in the therapeutic armamentarium for GISTs have a limited inhibitory activity toward this mutation. However, when compared to a classical imatinib-resistant KIT mutation (T670I), N655K was slightly more sensitive to imatinib, and encouraging responses were observed with last-generation TKIs.
Keywords: GIST; KIT; familial GIST; gastrointestinal stromal tumors; germline mutation.