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Arch Pathol Lab Med. 2006 Mar;130(3):343-8.

Utility of CD117 immunoreactivity in differentiating metastatic melanoma from clear cell sarcoma.

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Department of Pathology, University of California, San Francisco, CA, USA.



Clear cell sarcoma is a malignant soft tissue tumor with melanocytic differentiation. Molecular methods are sometimes necessary to identify the unique t(12; 22)(q13;q12) translocation and differentiate clear cell sarcoma from melanoma.


To determine whether CD117 immunoreactivity may be useful in separating melanoma from clear cell sarcoma.


We identified 20 tumors listed in our surgical pathology files that were diagnosed as clear cell sarcoma or in which clear cell sarcoma was strongly considered. These were tested for the presence of the t(12;22) translocation by reverse transcriptase/polymerase chain reaction and sequencing from paraffin-embedded tissue. Tumors with a t(12;22) translocation were immunostained with an antibody to CD117 and compared with 16 similarly stained metastatic melanomas.


Twelve tumors from 9 patients demonstrated t(12;22). No metastatic melanomas demonstrated t(12;22). None of the 12 clear cell sarcomas showed membrane or cytoplasmic staining for CD117. Conversely, 10 (63%) of 16 metastatic melanomas were, at least focally, positive for CD117; this difference was significant (P < .001). Interestingly, 3 tumors in which clear cell sarcoma was initially considered as a diagnosis, but which lacked t(12;22), were also positive for CD117.


Reverse transcriptase/polymerase chain reaction, performed on paraffin-embedded tissue, is a useful, rapid tool for identifying the presence of t(12;22) in clear cell sarcoma. The CD117 immunoreactivity may prove useful in the differential diagnosis of deep soft tissue or visceral lesions with melanocytic differentiation; positive staining results exclude clear cell sarcoma, but are compatible with metastatic melanoma.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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