Thyroid cancer shows high heritability but causative genes remain largely unknown. According to a common hypothesis the genetic predisposition to thyroid cancer is highly heterogeneous; being in part due to many different rare alleles. Here we used linkage analysis and targeted deep sequencing to detect a novel single-nucleotide mutation in chromosome 4q32 (4q32A>C) in a large pedigree displaying non-medullary thyroid carcinoma (NMTC). This mutation is generally ultra-rare; it was not found in 38 NMTC families, in 2676 sporadic NMTC cases or 2470 controls. The mutation is located in a long-range enhancer element whose ability to bind the transcription factors POU2F and YY1 is significantly impaired, with decreased activity in the presence of the C- allele compared with the wild type A-allele. An enhancer RNA (eRNA) is transcribed in thyroid tissue from this region and is greatly downregulated in NMTC tumors. We suggest that this is an example of an ultra-rare mutation predisposing to thyroid cancer with high penetrance.
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