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Genes Chromosomes Cancer. 2011 Jul;50(7):559-70. doi: 10.1002/gcc.20881. Epub 2011 Apr 11.

EWSR1-ATF1 fusion is a novel and consistent finding in hyalinizing clear-cell carcinoma of salivary gland.

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  • 1Department of Pathology, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, New York, NY, USA.


Hyalinizing clear-cell carcinoma (HCCC) is a rare, low-grade salivary gland tumor with distinctive clear-cell morphology and pattern of hyalinization as well as focal mucinous differentiation. However, histological overlap exists with other salivary gland tumors, such as epithelial-myoepithelial carcinoma (EMCa), salivary myoepithelial carcinoma, and mucoepidermoid carcinoma (MEC). The potential relationship between HCCC and its morphological mimics has not been yet investigated at the genetic level. In this study, we conducted a molecular analysis for the presence of rearrangements in MAML2, commonly seen in MECs, and EWSR1, involved in "soft tissue myoepithelial tumors" (SMET) by fusion with POU5F1, PBX1, or ZNF444. Fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH) was performed on 23 HCCC cases for abnormalities in MAML2, EWSR1, FUS, POU5F1, PBX1, and ZNF444. FISH for MAML2 was negative in all cases (0 of 14), including those with mucinous differentiation (0 of 7). An EWSR1 rearrangement was identified in 18 of 22 HCCCs (82%), while no break-apart signals were seen in FUS, POU5F1, PBX1, or ZNF444. 3'RACE on an EWSR1 rearranged HCCC identified an EWSR1-ATF1 fusion, which was confirmed by RT-PCR. ATF1 involvement was further confirmed by FISH analysis in 13 of 14 EWSR1-rearranged HCCC cases (93%). In contrast, all control cases tested, including among others 5 EMCa and 3 MEC with clear cells, were negative for EWSR1 and ATF1 rearrangements. The presence of EWSR1-ATF1 fusion in most HCCCs reliably separates these tumors from its histological mimics. The distinction from MEC is particularly important, as conventional MEC grading schemes overgrade these indolent HCCCs, potentially impacting on treatment.

Copyright © 2011 Wiley-Liss, Inc.

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