Somatic Mutations in H-RAS in Sporadic Pheochromocytoma and Paraganglioma Identified by Exome Sequencing

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Abstract

Context:

Up to 60% of pheochromocytoma (PCC) and paraganglioma (PGL) are associated with either somatic or germline mutations in established PCC and PGL susceptibility loci. Most unexplained cases are characterized by an increased activity of the RAS/RAF/ERK signaling pathway. Mutations in RAS subtypes H, K, and N are common in human cancers; however, previous studies have been inconsistent regarding the mutational status of RAS in PCC and PGL.

Objectives:

The aim of this study was to identify novel disease causing genes in PCC and PGL tumors.

Design, setting, and participants:

Four benign and sporadic PCC and PGL tumors were subjected to whole exome sequencing using the Illumina HiSeq Platform. Sequences were processed by CLC genomics 4.9 bioinformatics software and the acquired list of genetic variants was filtered against the Catalogue of Somatic Mutations in Cancer database. Findings were validated in an additional 78 PCC and PGL tumor lesions.

Results:

Exome sequencing identified 2 cases with somatic mutations in the H-RAS. In total, 6.9% (n = 4/58) of tumors negative for mutations in major PCC and PGL loci had mutations in H-RAS: G13R, Q61K, and Q61R. There were 3 PCC and 1 PGL; all had sporadic presentation with benign tumor characteristics and substantial increases in norepinephrine and/or epinephrine. H-RAS tumors were exclusively found in male patients (P = .007).

Conclusions:

We identified recurrent somatic H-RAS mutations in pheochromocytoma and paraganglioma. Tumors with H-RAS mutations had activation of the RAS/RAF/ERK signaling pathway and were associated with male PCC patients having benign and sporadic disease characteristics. H-RAS could serve as a prognostic and predictive marker as well as a novel therapeutic target.

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