Aberrant Nuclear/Cytoplasmic Localization and Gene Mutation of β-Catenin in Classic Pulmonary Blastoma: β-Catenin Immunostaining Is Useful for Distinguishing Between Classic Pulmonary Blastoma and a Blastomatoid Variant of Carcinosarcoma

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It is now known that gene mutation of β-catenin with subsequent nuclear/cytoplasmic (N/C) overaccumulation of the protein plays an important role in tumorigenesis of various organs. We recently demonstrated that low-grade adenocarcinoma of the fetal lung type (L-FLAC)/well-differentiated fetal adenocarcinoma (WDFA), the epithelial prototype of classic pulmonary blastoma (CPB), shows N/C localization of β-catenin with genetic mutation. This prompted us to further investigate the state of β-catenin abnormality in CPB and related neoplasms. We studied 9 lung tumors previously diagnosed as biphasic pulmonary blastoma (PB). Histologically, 4 cases (median age 34 years) were CPB with l-FLAC/WDFA as the epithelial component, whereas 5 cases (median age 65 years) were a variant of carcinosarcoma with high-grade FLAC/clear cell adenocarcinoma with fetal lung features as the epithelial component, which we term the blastomatoid variant of carcinosarcoma (BCS). Immunohistochemically, all 4 CPBs showed aberrant N/C localization of β-catenin both in the epithelial and mesenchymal components, with especially high staining intensity in the budding glands and morules. In contrast, all 5 BCSs showed preserved or diminished membranous expression and no significant N/C expression of β-catenin in the epithelial component, and absent or focal N/C expression of β-catenin in the mesenchymal component. Mutational analysis of exon 3 of the β-catenin gene revealed that 3 CPBs harbored missense mutations (S29F, S37F, and S37F), whereas none of the 5 BCSs had this mutation. This study suggests that β-catenin gene mutations may play a role in the tumorigenesis of CPB. Although CPB and BCS have often been grouped together as biphasic PB, they are different entities based on immunohistochemical and molecular analysis of β-catenin. Immunostaining for β-catenin is useful for the discrimination.

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