11q21 Rearrangement is a Frequent and Highly Specific Genetic Alteration in Mucoepidermoid Carcinoma

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Mucoepidermoid carcinoma (MEC) is the most common malignant salivary gland tumor. Translocation t(11;19)(q21;p13) involving the MECT1 and MAML2 genes has been suggested as a diagnostic marker in these tumors. To determine the specificity of 11q21 locus rearrangements for MEC, fluorescence in situ hybridization analysis with specific MEC-I Dual Color Break Apart Probe was performed on a tissue microarray containing samples from almost 1200 salivary gland adenomas and carcinomas. Rearrangements of 11q21 were observed in 40% of 217 MECs. The frequency of rearrangements decreased with tumor grade and was found in 53% of G1, 43% of G2, and 31% of G3 tumors (P=0.015). There were no 11q21 rearrangements found in other salivary gland carcinomas including 142 adenoid cystic carcinomas, 104 acinic cell adenocarcinomas, 76 adenocarcinoma not otherwise specified, 38 epithelial-myoepithelial carcinomas, 15 polymorphous low-grade adenocarcinomas, 18 basal cell adenocarcinomas, 19 myoepithelial carcinomas, 12 papillary cystadenocarcinomas, 6 salivary duct carcinomas, and 10 oncocytic carcinomas. Furthermore, all analyzed salivary gland adenomas, including 39 cases of Warthin tumor and control samples, either from the salivary gland or from other organs were negative for 11q21 rearrangements. It is concluded that MECT1-MAML2 gene fusion is a highly specific genetic alteration in MEC with predominance in low-grade and intermediate-grade tumors.

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