Genetic mosaicism of a frameshift mutation in the RET gene in a family with Hirschsprung disease.

PMID 24613280


Mutations and polymorphisms in the RET gene are a major cause of Hirschsprung disease (HSCR). Theoretically, all true heterozygous patients with a new manifestation of a genetically determined disease must have parents with a genetic mosaicism of some extent. However, no genetic mosaicism has been described for the RET gene in HSCR yet. Therefore, we analyzed families with mutations in the RET gene for genetic mosaicism in the parents of the patients. Blood samples were taken from patients with HSCR and their families/parents to sequence the RET coding region. Among 125 families with HSCR, 33 families with RET mutations were analyzed. In one family, we detected a frameshift mutation due to a loss of one in a row of four cytosines in codon 117/118 of the RET gene (c.352delC) leading to a frameshift mutation in the protein (p.Leu118Cysfs*105) that affected two siblings. In the blood sample of the asymptomatic father we found a genetic mosaicism of this mutation which was confirmed in two independent samples of saliva and hair roots. Quantification of peak-heights and comparison with different mixtures of normal and mutated plasmid DNA suggested that the mutation occurred in the early morula stadium of the founder, between the 4- and 8-cell stages. We conclude that the presence of a RET mutation leading to loss of one functional allele in 20 to 25% of the cells is not sufficient to cause HSCR. The possibility of a mosaicism has to be kept in mind during genetic counseling for inherited diseases.