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Am J Pathol. 1988 Mar;130(3):515-31.

Intermediate filament proteins and actin isoforms as markers for soft tissue tumor differentiation and origin. II. Rhabdomyosarcomas.

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  • 1Department of Pathology, University of Geneva, Switzerland.


A series of 15 rhabdomyosarcomas was examined by light microscopy, transmission electron microscopy, two-dimensional gel electrophoresis (2D-GE) and indirect immunofluorescence, the latter using monoclonal or affinity-purified polyclonal antibodies to desmin, vimentin, alpha-smooth muscle and alpha-sarcomeric (alpha-sr) actins. By light microscopy, the authors diagnosed 1 botrioid, 1 alveolar, and 7 embryonal rhabdomyosarcomas, 4 pleomorphic spindle cell sarcomas, and 2 spindle cell sarcomas, one nondistinct, the other with a hemangiopericytomatous pattern. By transmission electron microscopy, 13 neoplasms disclosed rhabdomyoblastic differentiation; the remaining 2, myogenic differentiation. By immunofluorescence microscopy, all neoplasms expressed vimentin and alpha-sr actin, 12 expressed, in addition, desmin, and 1 expressed alpha-smooth muscle actin. Among the 11 neoplasms studied by means of 2D-GE, 7 demonstrated an alpha-actin spot, while 4 showed only beta and gamma spots. One tumor disclosed, in addition to alpha, beta, and gamma spots, a spot with a molecular weight corresponding to actin, but more acidic than alpha-actins. This study demonstrates that alpha-sr actin antibody represents a valuable marker for the diagnosis of rhabdomyosarcoma, because it was present in all neoplasms, including the one negative for desmin. This antibody further allowed the recognition of pleomorphic variants and morphologically atypical forms of rhabdomyosarcomas. The presence of alpha-smooth muscle actin in 1 case of rhabdomyosarcoma suggests that this actin isoform may be expressed during skeletal muscle differentiation.

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