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Genes Chromosomes Cancer. 2012 Feb;51(2):140-8. doi: 10.1002/gcc.20938. Epub 2011 Oct 28.

A subset of cutaneous and soft tissue mixed tumors are genetically linked to their salivary gland counterpart.

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Department of Pathology, St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, Memphis, TN.


Neoplasms morphologically similar to mixed tumors and myoepitheliomas of the salivary glands, under the broad concept of myoepithelial neoplasia, have recently been defined in the skin and soft tissue; however, to date, no data have supported a shared genetic background with their salivary gland counterpart. From a large body of research, it has been well established that rearrangement of pleomorphic adenoma gene 1 (PLAG1) leads to aberrant expression of its protein and is pathogenically relevant in the development of salivary mixed tumors. On the other hand, in soft tissue lesions, compelling evidence suggests that EWSR1 is involved in a significant subset. To examine the hypothesis that there is a genetic link between these histologically similar tumors at different sites, we randomly selected 20 benign myoepitheliomas/mixed tumors of skin and soft tissue (10 cases each). Nineteen cases could be immunostained for PLAG1, of which 11 cases showed distinct nuclear staining with moderate or strong intensity in a significant number of cells. Interphase fluorescence in situ hybridization for PLAG1 was successfully performed in 11 cases (seven in skin and four in soft tissue) and was positive for gene rearrangement in eight cases (five in skin and three in soft tissue). All PLAG1-rearranged tumors, except one, had clear-cut ductal structures and were immunoreactive for PLAG1. In our series, tumors with PLAG1 alteration shared a common morphologic phenotype characterized by prominent tubuloductal differentiation, suggesting that myoepithelial neoplasms with genuine salivary gland-like morphology, so-called soft tissue/cutaneous mixed tumors, are genetically related to their salivary gland counterpart.

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