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J Pathol. 2008 Aug;215(4):377-87. doi: 10.1002/path.2366.

Wilms tumour histology is determined by distinct types of precursor lesions and not epigenetic changes.

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  • 1Cancer Genetics Laboratory, Department of Biochemistry, University of Otago, PO Box 56, Dunedin, New Zealand.


Current models of Wilms tumour development propose that histological features of the tumours are programmed by the underlying molecular aberrations. For example, tumours associated with WT1 mutations arise from intralobar nephrogenic rests (ILNR), concur with CTNNB1 mutations and have distinct histology, whereas tumours with IGF2 loss of imprinting (LOI) often arise from perilobar nephrogenic rests (PLNR). Intriguingly, ILNR and PLNR are found simultaneously in Wilms tumours in children with overgrowth who have constitutional IGF2 LOI. We therefore examined whether the precursor lesions or early epigenetic changes are the primary determinant of Wilms tumour histology. We examined the histological features and gene expression profiles of IGF2 LOI tumours and WT1-mutant tumours which are associated with PLNR and/or ILNR. Two distinct types of IGF2 LOI tumours were identified: the first type had a blastemal-predominant histology associated with PLNR, while the second subtype had a myogenic histology, increased expression of mesenchymal lineage genes and an association with ILNR, similar to WT1-mutant tumours. These ILNR-associated IGF2 LOI tumours also showed signatures of activation of the WNT signalling pathway: differential expression of beta-catenin targets (MMP2, RARG, DKK1) and WNT antagonist genes (DKK1, WIF1, SFRP4). Unexpectedly, the majority of these tumours had CTNNB1 mutations, which are normally only seen in WT1-mutant tumours. The absence of WT1 mutations in tumours with IGF2 LOI indicated that CTNNB1 mutations occur predominantly in tumours arising from ILNR independent of the presence or absence of WT1 mutations. Thus, even though these two classes of tumours with IGF2 LOI have the same underlying predisposing epigenetic error, the tumour histology and the gene expression profiles are determined by the nature of the precursor cells within the nephrogenic rests and subsequent CTNNB1 mutations.

Copyright (c) 2008 Pathological Society of Great Britain and Ireland. Published by John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

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