In order to evaluate the role of RET proto-oncogene in the development and growth of pheochromocytomas, we examined mutations in RET and expression of RET in 7 cases of sporadic pheochromocytomas. Tumors were screened for mutations in exons 10 and 11 and codon 918 which are identified in multiple endocrine neoplasia types 2A and 2B. No mutations were found in these regions in all of the sporadic pheochromocytomas examined. On the other hand, RET mRNA was detected in all pheochromocytomas and the levels of RET expression were higher in 5 of 7 pheochromocytomas than in normal adrenal medulla, indicating that RET is overexpressed in a sizable portion of sporadic pheochromocytomas. These results suggest that high levels of expression of RET may have relevance to the development or growth of sporadic pheochromocytomas.
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