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Mod Pathol. 2013 Jun;26(6):860-7. doi: 10.1038/modpathol.2012.226. Epub 2013 Jan 25.

FOXL2 molecular testing in ovarian neoplasms: diagnostic approach and procedural guidelines.

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  • 1Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC, Canada.


A single, recurrent somatic point mutation (402C→G) in FOXL2 has been described in almost all adult-type granulosa cell tumors but not other ovarian neoplasms. Histopathological features of adult-type granulosa cell tumors can be mimicked by a variety of other tumors, making diagnosis of adult-type granulosa cell tumor challenging. It has been suggested that molecular testing for FOXL2 mutation might be a useful tool in the diagnosis of adult-type granulosa cell tumors. The aim of this study was to demonstrate how testing for the FOXL2 mutation can be used in a gynecological pathology consultation service and to establish clear procedural guidelines for FOXL2 testing. Immunohistochemistry for FOXL2 was done using an anti-FOXL2 polyclonal antiserum. If immunohistochemistry was positive, FOXL2 mutation status was subsequently analyzed using a TaqMan assay. A dilution experiment was done to assess the sensitivity and minimum tumor cellularity requirements for our TaqMan assay. Twenty problematic cases were assessed, where the differential diagnosis after the initial investigations included adult-type granulosa cell tumors. Differential diagnoses included: thecoma, Sertoli-Leydig cell tumor, juvenile granulosa cell tumor, endometrial stromal sarcoma and others. In all cases, FOXL2 immunohistochemistry was positive and in six samples the FOXL2 mutation was detected, thus confirming a diagnosis of adult-type granulosa cell tumor. The TaqMan assay was able to reliably detect the FOXL2 mutation with input DNA in the range of 2.5-20 ng, and with a minimum of 25% tumor cell nuclei. The analysis of the FOXL2 mutational status in clinical samples is a useful diagnostic tool in situations where the differential diagnosis is between adult-type granulosa cell tumor and other ovarian tumors. The TaqMan assay requires a minimum of 2.5 ng DNA, with optimal assay performance for 5 to 10 ng DNA input. Laser capture or needle-macrodissection should be undertaken to enrich samples with tumor cell content below 25%.

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