Detection of RET mutations in multiple endocrine neoplasia type 2a and familial medullary thyroid carcinoma by denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis

Hum Mutat. 1996;7(2):100-4. doi: 10.1002/(SICI)1098-1004(1996)7:2<100::AID-HUMU2>3.0.CO;2-G.


Germline missense mutations within the coding region of the RET proto-oncogene have recently been described in patients with the dominantly inherited cancer syndromes, multiple endocrine neoplasia type 2a (MEN 2a) and familial medullary thyroid carcinoma (FMTC). To date, the sequence variations occur in RET exons 10 and 11 and alter highly conserved cysteine residues in the proposed extracellular domain at codons 609, 611, 618, 620, and 634. To expedite rapid screening of populations at risk of MEN 2a or FMTC, we developed a PCR-based denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis (DGGE) strategy that detects polymorphisms occurring at all five Cys codons in both RET exons using identical gel conditions. In this report, the screening results from DGGE analysis of 15 distinct MEN 2a and FMTC mutations are shown. Each mutation generated a clearly distinguishable and unique homo- and heteroduplex band pattern. Given the highly efficient, reproducible, and sensitive nature of this approach, DGGE is particularly appropriate for rapid, large-scale screening of patients. Since prior knowledge of the RET mutation is unnecessary for analysis, DGGE is potentially valuable for distinguishing germline from seemingly sporadic medullary thyroid cancer as well as identifying novel sequence changes.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Base Sequence
  • Carcinoma, Medullary / genetics*
  • DNA Primers / chemistry
  • Drosophila Proteins*
  • Electrophoresis, Polyacrylamide Gel
  • Exons / genetics
  • Humans
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Multiple Endocrine Neoplasia Type 2a / genetics*
  • Nucleic Acid Denaturation
  • Pedigree
  • Point Mutation / genetics
  • Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Proto-Oncogene Mas
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins / genetics*
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-ret
  • Receptor Protein-Tyrosine Kinases / genetics*
  • Thyroid Neoplasms / genetics*
  • Urea / pharmacology


  • DNA Primers
  • Drosophila Proteins
  • MAS1 protein, human
  • Proto-Oncogene Mas
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins
  • Urea
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-ret
  • Receptor Protein-Tyrosine Kinases
  • Ret protein, Drosophila