MUC4 Is a Sensitive and Extremely Useful Marker for Sclerosing Epithelioid Fibrosarcoma: Association With FUS Gene Rearrangement

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Abstract

Sclerosing epithelioid fibrosarcoma (SEF) is a rare aggressive fibroblastic neoplasm composed of cords of epithelioid cells embedded in a dense collagenous stroma. The reported immunophenotype of SEF is nonspecific. Some SEF cases show morphologic and molecular overlap with low-grade fibromyxoid sarcoma (LGFMS), suggesting a relationship between these tumor types. MUC4 has recently been identified as a sensitive and specific marker for LGFMS; MUC4 expression was also observed in 2 tumors with hybrid features of SEF and LGFMS. We investigated MUC4 expression in SEF and other epithelioid soft tissue tumors to determine (1) the potential diagnostic utility of MUC4 for SEF and (2) the association between MUC4 expression and FUS rearrangement in SEF. Whole sections of 180 tumors were evaluated: 41 cases of SEF (including 29 “pure” SEF and 12 hybrid LGFMS-SEF), 20 epithelioid sarcomas, 11 clear cell sarcomas, 11 metastatic melanomas, 10 perivascular epithelioid cell tumors, 10 alveolar soft part sarcomas, 10 epithelioid angiosarcomas, 10 epithelioid hemangioendotheliomas, 10 epithelioid gastrointestinal stromal tumors, 10 myoepithelial carcinomas, 17 ossifying fibromyxoid tumors, 10 leiomyosarcomas, and 10 biphasic synovial sarcomas. Immunohistochemical analysis was performed after antigen retrieval using a mouse anti-MUC4 monoclonal antibody. Fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH) was performed on 33 SEF cases using FUS break-apart probes. A subset of cases was also evaluated for EWSR1 and CREB3L2/L1 rearrangements by FISH. Strong diffuse cytoplasmic staining for MUC4 was observed in 32 of 41 (78%) cases of SEF, including all 12 hybrid tumors. FUS rearrangement was detected in 8 of 21 (38%) MUC4-positive cases of SEF with successful FISH studies. The prevalence of FUS rearrangement was similar in hybrid LGFMS-SEF (2 of 6; 33%) and SEF without an LGFMS component (6 of 15; 40%). FUS rearrangement was not detected in any cases of MUC4-negative SEF. Two hybrid tumors had both EWSR1 and CREB3L1 rearrangements. MUC4 expression was also seen in 9 of 10 (90%) biphasic synovial sarcomas, predominantly in the glandular component. All other tumor types were negative for MUC4, apart from focal reactivity in 5 ossifying fibromyxoid tumors, 2 epithelioid gastrointestinal stromal tumors, and 1 myoepithelial carcinoma. MUC4 is a sensitive and relatively specific marker for SEF among epithelioid soft tissue tumors. MUC4 expression occurs more frequently than FUS rearrangement in SEF. The finding of EWSR1 and CREB3L1 rearrangements in 2 cases of hybrid LGFMS-SEF suggests that SEFs are genetically heterogenous. MUC4-positive SEFs with FUS rearrangement are likely closely related to LGFMS. MUC4-positive SEFs that lack FUS rearrangement may be related to LGFMS but could have alternate fusion partners, including EWSR1. SEF without MUC4 expression may represent a distinct group of tumors. MUC4 expression correlates with glandular epithelial differentiation in biphasic synovial sarcoma and is very limited in other epithelioid soft tissue tumors.

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