Eur J Hum Genet 2008 Jan 1;16(1):79-88. Epub 2007 Aug 1.
Department of Genetics, Biology and Biochemistry, University of Torino, Turin, Italy.
Gastrointestinal stromal tumors (GISTs) may be caused by germline mutations of the KIT and platelet-derived growth factor receptor-alpha (PDGFRA) genes and treated by Imatinib mesylate (STI571) or other protein tyrosine kinase inhibitors. However, not all GISTs harbor these genetic defects and several do not respond to STI571 suggesting that other molecular mechanisms may be implicated in GIST pathogenesis. In a subset of patients with GISTs, the lesions are associated with paragangliomas; the condition is familial and transmitted as an autosomal-dominant trait. We investigated 11 patients with the dyad of 'paraganglioma and gastric stromal sarcoma'; in eight (from seven unrelated families), the GISTs were caused by germline mutations of the genes encoding subunits B, C, or D (the SDHB, SDHC and SDHD genes, respectively). In this report, we present the molecular effects of these mutations on these genes and the clinical information on the patients. We conclude that succinate dehydrogenase deficiency may be the cause of a subgroup of GISTs and this offers a therapeutic target for GISTs that may not respond to STI571 and its analogs.