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Am J Surg Pathol. 2018 May;42(5):636-645. doi: 10.1097/PAS.0000000000001021.

NUTM1 Gene Fusions Characterize a Subset of Undifferentiated Soft Tissue and Visceral Tumors.

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Department of Pathology & Laboratory Medicine.
Department of Laboratory Medicine and Pathobiology.
Lunenfeld-Tanenbaum Research Institute, Toronto, ON.
Department of Pathology, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, New York, NY.
Department of Medical Oncology, Horizon Health Network, Moncton, NB.
Department of Medical Oncology, Dalhousie University, Halifax, NS, Canada.
University Musculoskeletal Oncology Unit, Mount Sinai Hospital.
Department of Surgery, Division of Orthopaedics, University of Toronto.


NUT midline carcinoma is an aggressive tumor that occurs mainly in the head and neck and, less frequently, the mediastinum and lung. Following identification of an index case of a NUTM1 fusion positive undifferentiated soft tissue tumor, we interrogated additional cases of primary undifferentiated soft tissue and visceral tumors for NUTM1 abnormalities. Targeted next-generation sequencing was performed on RNA extracted from formalin-fixed paraffin-embedded tissue, and results validated by fluorescence in situ hybridization using custom bacterial artificial chromosome probes. Six patients were identified: mean age of 42 years (range, 3 to 71 y); equal sex distribution; and, tumors involved the extremity soft tissues (N=2), kidney (N=2), stomach, and brain. On systemic work-up at presentation all patients lacked a distant primary tumor. Morphologically, the tumors were heterogenous, with undifferentiated round-epithelioid-rhabdoid cells arranged in solid sheets, nests, and cords. Mitotic activity was generally brisk. Four cases expressed pancytokeratin, but in only 2 cases was this diffuse. Next-generation sequencing demonstrated the following fusions: BRD4-NUTM1 (3 cases), BRD3-NUTM1, MXD1-NUTM1, and BCORL1-NUTM1. Independent testing by fluorescence in situ hybridization confirmed the presence of NUTM1 and partner gene rearrangement. This study establishes that NUT-associated tumors transgress the midline and account for a subset of primitive neoplasms occurring in soft tissue and viscera. Tumors harboring NUTM1 gene fusions are presumably underrecognized, and the extent to which they account for undifferentiated mesenchymal, neuroendocrine, and/or epithelial neoplasms is unclear. Moreover, the relationship, if any, between NUT-associated tumors in soft tissue and/or viscera, and conventional NUT carcinoma, remains to be elucidated.

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