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Diagn Pathol. 2019 Jul 13;14(1):78. doi: 10.1186/s13000-019-0855-8.

MYB-NFIB gene fusions identified in archival adenoid cystic carcinoma tissue employing NanoString analysis: an exploratory study.

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Translational Laboratory, Department of Oncology, University of Calgary, Calgary, AB, Canada.
Department of Medical Oncology, BC Cancer - Abbotsford, Abbotsford, BC, Canada.
Faculty of Medicine, Southern Medical Program University of British Columbia, Kelowna, BC, Canada.
Translational Laboratory, Tom Baker Cancer Centre, Calgary, AB, Canada.
Department of Anatomical Pathology, University of Calgary, Foothills Medical Centre, Calgary, AB, Canada.
Department of Medical Oncology, Tom Baker Cancer Centre, University of Calgary, Calgary, AB, Canada.
Department of Radiation Oncology, University of Calgary, Tom Baker Cancer Centre, Calgary, AB, Canada.



Adenoid cystic carcinoma (ACC) is a slow growing salivary gland malignancy that is molecularly characterized by t(6:9)(q22-23;p23-24) translocations which predominantly result in MYB-NFIB gene fusions in nearly half of tumours. Detection of MYB-NFIB transcripts is typically performed with fresh ACC tissue using conventional RT-PCR fragment analysis or FISH techniques, which are prone to failure when only archival formalin fixed paraffin embedded (FFPE) tissue is available. The purpose of this pilot study was to evaluate the utility of NanoString probe technology for the detection of MYB-NFIB transcripts in archival ACC tissue.


A NanoString probeset panel was designed targeting the junctions of three currently annotated MYB-NFIB fusion genes as well as 5'/3' MYB probesets designed to detect MYB gene expression imbalance. RNA isolated from twenty-five archival ACC specimens was profiled and analyzed. RT-qPCR and sequencing were performed to confirm NanoString results. MYB protein expression was analyzed by immunohistochemistry.


Of the 25 samples analyzed, 11/25 (44%) expressed a high degree of MYB 5'/3' imbalance and five of these samples were positive for at least one specific MYB-NFIB variant in our panel. MYB-NFIB variant detection on NanoString analysis was confirmed by direct cDNA sequencing. No clinical correlations were found to be associated with MYB fusion status.


We conclude that the application of NanoString digital probe counting technology is well suited for the detection and quantification of MYB-NFIB fusion transcripts in archival ACC specimens.


Adenoid cystic carcinoma; Fusion transcript; MYB; MYB-NFIB; NanoString; Salivary gland

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