Familial non-medullary thyroid cancer: unraveling the genetic maze

    1. Joanne Ngeow3,4
    1. 1Endocrinology Division, Department of Medicine, National University Hospital of Singapore, Singapore, Singapore
    2. 2Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine, National University of Singapore, Singapore, Singapore
    3. 3Cancer Genetics Service, Division of Medical Oncology, National Cancer Centre, Singapore, Singapore
    4. 4Oncology Academic Clinical Program, Duke-NUS Medical School, Singapore, Singapore
    1. Correspondence should be addressed to J Ngeow; Email: joanne.ngeow.y.y{at}singhealth.com.sg


    Familial non-medullary thyroid cancer (FNMTC) constitutes 3–9% of all thyroid cancers. Out of all FNMTC cases, only 5% in the syndromic form has well-studied driver germline mutations. These associated syndromes include Cowden syndrome, familial adenomatous polyposis, Gardner syndrome, Carney complex type 1, Werner syndrome and DICER1 syndrome. It is important for the clinician to recognize these phenotypes so that genetic counseling and testing can be initiated to enable surveillance for associated malignancies and genetic testing of family members. The susceptibility chromosomal loci and genes of 95% of FNMTC cases remain to be characterized. To date, 4 susceptibility genes have been identified (SRGAP1 gene (12q14), TITF-1/NKX2.1 gene (14q13), FOXE1 gene (9q22.33) and HABP2 gene (10q25.3)), out of which only the FOXE1 and the HABP2 genes have been validated by separate study groups. The causal genes located at the other 7 FNMTC-associated chromosomal loci (TCO (19q13.2), fPTC/ PRN (1q21), FTEN (8p23.1-p22), NMTC1 (2q21), MNG1 (14q32), 6q22, 8q24) have yet to be identified. Increasingly, gene regulatory mechanisms (miRNA and enhancer elements) are recognized to affect gene expression and FNMTC tumorigenesis. With newer sequencing technique, along with functional studies, there has been progress in the understanding of the genetic basis of FNMTC. In our review, we summarize the FNMTC studies to date and provide an update on the recently reported susceptibility genes including novel germline SEC23B variant in Cowden syndrome, SRGAP1 gene, FOXE1 gene and HABP2 genes in non-syndromic FNMTC.

    • Received 30 September 2016
    • Accepted 3 October 2016
    • Made available online as an Accepted Preprint 2 November 2016
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