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Mod Pathol. 2009 Dec;22(12):1575-81. doi: 10.1038/modpathol.2009.126. Epub 2009 Sep 11.

Clinicopathological significance of the CRTC3-MAML2 fusion transcript in mucoepidermoid carcinoma.

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Department of Pathology, Graduate School of Medical Sciences, Nagoya City University, Nagoya, Japan.


Mucoepidermoid carcinoma is the most common primary malignancy of the salivary gland. We and others showed that CRTC1-MAML2 gene fusion was associated with favorable clinicopathological tumor features. Recently, a novel gene fusion, CRTC3-MAML2, was reported as a rare gene alteration in a case of mucoepidermoid carcinoma. However, its frequency and clinicopathological significance remains unclear. In all, 101 cases of mucoepidermoid carcinoma and 89 cases of non-mucoepidermoid carcinoma of the salivary gland were analyzed, and RNA was extracted from formalin-fixed, paraffin-embedded specimens. In the CRTC family, there have been three genes, CRTC1, CRTC2, and CRTC3. We developed reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) assays for CRTC1-MAML2, CRTC2-MAML2, and CRTC3-MAML2 fusions. Clinicopathological data of the patients were obtained from their clinical records. Of 101 cases of mucoepidermoid carcinoma, 34 (34%) and 6 (6%) were positive for CRTC1-MAML2 and CRTC3-MAML2 fusion transcripts. However, in the 89 cases of non-mucoepidermoid carcinoma, neither transcript was noted. In the former cases, CRTC1-MAML2 and CRTC3-MAML2 fusions were mutually exclusive. The other fusion, CRTC2-MAML2, was not detected. We confirmed that the clinicopathological features of CRTC1-MAML2-positive mucoepidermoid carcinomas indicated an indolent course. CRTC3-MAML2-positive mucoepidermoid carcinomas also had clinicopathologically favorable features; all cases showed a less advanced clinical stage, negative nodal metastasis, no high-grade tumor histology, and no recurrence or tumor-related death after surgical resection of the tumor. It is interesting to note that patients with CRTC3-MAML2-positive tumors (mean 36 years of age) were significantly younger that those with the CRTC1-MAML2 fusion (55 years) and those with fusion-negative tumors (58 years). In conclusion, CRTC3-MAML2 fusion, which is mutually exclusive with CRTC1-MAML2 fusion and specific to mucoepidermoid carcinoma, may be detected more frequently than previously expected. Mucoepidermoid carcinomas possessing CRTC3-MAML2 fusion may be associated with favorable clinicopathological features and patients may be younger than those with CRTC1-MAML2 fusion or those with no detectable gene fusion.

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