The DNA rearrangement that generates the TRK-T3 oncogene involves a novel gene on chromosome 3 whose product has a potential coiled-coil domain.
Oncogenic rearrangements of the NTRK1 gene (also designated TRKA), encoding one of the receptors for the nerve growth factor, are frequently detected in thyroid carcinomas. Such rearrangements fuse the NTRK1 tyrosine kinase domain to 5'-end sequences belonging to different genes. In previously reported studies we have demonstrated that NTRK1 oncogenic activation involves two genes, TPM3 and TPR, both localized similarly to the receptor tyrosine kinase, on the q arm of chromosome 1. Here we report the characterization of a novel NTRK1-derived thyroid oncogene, named TRK-T3. A cDNA clone, capable of transforming activity, was isolated from a transformant cell line. Sequence analysis revealed that TRK-T3 contains 1,412 nucleotides of NTRK1 preceded by 598 nucleotides belonging to a novel gene that we have named TFG (TRK-fused gene). The TRK-T3 amino acid sequence displays, within the TFG region, a coiled-coil motif that could endow the oncoprotein with the capability to form complexes. The TRK-T3 oncogene encodes a 68-kDa cytoplasmic protein reacting with NTRK1-specific antibodies. By sedimentation gradient experiments the TRK-T3 oncoprotein was shown to form, in vivo, multimeric complexes, most likely trimers or tetramers. The TFG gene is ubiquitously expressed and is located on chromosome 3. The breakpoint producing the TRK-T3 oncogene occurs within exons of both the TFG gene and the NTRK1 gene and produces a chimeric exon that undergoes alternative splicing. Molecular analysis of the NTRK1 rearranged fragments indicated that the chromosomal rearrangement is reciprocal and balanced and involves loss of a few nucleotides of germ line sequences.