Gene Summary

Gene:MAML2; mastermind-like transcriptional coactivator 2
Aliases: MAM2, MAM3, MAM-3, MLL-MAML2
Summary:The protein encoded by this gene is a member of the Mastermind-like family of proteins. All family members are proline and glutamine-rich, and contain a conserved basic domain that binds the ankyrin repeat domain of the intracellular domain of the Notch receptors (ICN1-4) in their N-terminus, and a transcriptional activation domain in their C-terminus. This protein binds to an extended groove that is formed by the interaction of CBF1, Suppressor of Hairless, LAG-1 (CSL) with ICN, and positively regulates Notch signaling. High levels of expression of this gene have been observed in several B cell-derived lymphomas. Translocations resulting in fusion proteins with both CRTC1 and CRTC3 have been implicated in the development of mucoepidermoid carcinomas, while a translocation event with CXCR4 has been linked with chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL). Copy number variation in the polyglutamine tract has been observed. [provided by RefSeq, Jan 2015]
Databases:OMIM, VEGA, HGNC, Ensembl, GeneCard, Gene
Protein:mastermind-like protein 2
Source:NCBIAccessed: 27 August, 2015


What does this gene/protein do?
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Pathways:What pathways are this gene/protein implicaed in?
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Cancer Overview

Research Indicators

Publications Per Year (1990-2015)
Graph generated 27 August 2015 using data from PubMed using criteria.

Literature Analysis

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Tag cloud generated 27 August, 2015 using data from PubMed, MeSH and CancerIndex

Specific Cancers (5)

Data table showing topics related to specific cancers and associated disorders. Scope includes mutations and abnormal protein expression.

Note: list is not exhaustive. Number of papers are based on searches of PubMed (click on topic title for arbitrary criteria used).

Latest Publications: MAML2 (cancer-related)

Nakano T, Yamamoto H, Nishijima T, et al.
Hyalinizing clear cell carcinoma with EWSR1-ATF1 fusion gene: report of three cases with molecular analyses.
Virchows Arch. 2015; 466(1):37-43 [PubMed] Related Publications
Hyalinizing clear cell carcinoma (HCCC) is a low-grade salivary gland carcinoma characterized by clear cells and hyalinized stroma. Recently, the EWSR1-ATF1 fusion gene was found in HCCCs. We herein describe three cases of HCCC identified in one male and two females, ranging in age from 27 to 67 years. The tumors were located in the root of tongue, nasopharynx, and soft palate. They were composed of nested or cord-like proliferations of epithelial cells with clear to pale eosinophilic cytoplasm, embedded in hyalinized and focally fibroedematous stroma. Tumor-associated lymphoid proliferation and pseudoepitheliomatous hyperplasia were also observed in each one case. MAML2 fusions specific to mucoepidermoid carcinoma were not detected in any of the three cases. We found EWSR1-ATF1 in two of three HCCCs using reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) with our original primer sets designed to detect the fusion gene transcripts in formalin-fixed paraffin-embedded (FFPE) tissues. EWSR1 rearrangement was also confirmed by fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH) on FFPE sections in two cases. There was a good concordance between the two methods (two positive cases and one negative case by both RT-PCR and FISH). Therefore, RT-PCR and FISH using FFPE tissue may be ancillary tools to confirm the diagnosis of HCCC.

Amelio AL, Fallahi M, Schaub FX, et al.
CRTC1/MAML2 gain-of-function interactions with MYC create a gene signature predictive of cancers with CREB-MYC involvement.
Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2014; 111(32):E3260-8 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
Chimeric oncoproteins created by chromosomal translocations are among the most common genetic mutations associated with tumorigenesis. Malignant mucoepidermoid salivary gland tumors, as well as a growing number of solid epithelial-derived tumors, can arise from a recurrent t (11, 19)(q21;p13.1) translocation that generates an unusual chimeric cAMP response element binding protein (CREB)-regulated transcriptional coactivator 1 (CRTC1)/mastermind-like 2 (MAML2) (C1/M2) oncoprotein comprised of two transcriptional coactivators, the CRTC1 and the NOTCH/RBPJ coactivator MAML2. Accordingly, the C1/M2 oncoprotein induces aberrant expression of CREB and NOTCH target genes. Surprisingly, here we report a gain-of-function activity of the C1/M2 oncoprotein that directs its interactions with myelocytomatosis oncogene (MYC) proteins and the activation of MYC transcription targets, including those involved in cell growth and metabolism, survival, and tumorigenesis. These results were validated in human mucoepidermoid tumor cells that harbor the t (11, 19)(q21;p13.1) translocation and express the C1/M2 oncoprotein. Notably, the C1/M2-MYC interaction is necessary for C1/M2-driven cell transformation, and the C1/M2 transcriptional signature predicts other human malignancies having combined involvement of MYC and CREB. These findings suggest that such gain-of-function properties may also be manifest in other oncoprotein fusions found in human cancer and that agents targeting the C1/M2-MYC interface represent an attractive strategy for the development of effective and safe anticancer therapeutics in tumors harboring the t (11, 19) translocation.

Tang G, Lu X, Wang SA, et al.
Homozygous inv(11)(q21q23) and MLL gene rearrangement in two patients with myeloid neoplasms.
Int J Clin Exp Pathol. 2014; 7(6):3196-201 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
Rearrangements of the MLL gene located at chromosome 11q23 are common chromosomal abnormalities associated with acute leukemias. In vast majority of cases with MLL gene rearrangements, only one chromosome 11 or a single MLL allele got involved. We report two very unusual cases of myeloid neoplasms with homozygous inv(11)(q21q23) and biallelic MLL rearrangement. Both patients, a 12-year old boy and a 29-year old woman, presented initially with T lymphoblastic leukemia/lymphoma (T-ALL), achieved complete remission with intensive chemotherapy, then recurred as acute myeloid leukemia in one patient and therapy-related myelodysplastic syndromes in the other patient, 24 and 15 months after initial T-ALL diagnosis, respectively. In both cases, biallelic MLL gene rearrangements were confirmed by fluorescence in situ hybridization. Mastermind like 2 gene was identified as MLL partner gene in one case. To our knowledge, homozygous inv(11)(q21q23) with two MLL genes rearrangement are extremely rare; it is likely a result of acquired uniparental disomy.

von Holstein SL
Tumours of the lacrimal gland. Epidemiological, clinical and genetic characteristics.
Acta Ophthalmol. 2013; 91 Thesis 6:1-28 [PubMed] Related Publications
Tumours of the lacrimal gland are rare, but the prognosis may be grave. To date, no population-based incidence and distribution data on lacrimal gland tumours exist. In addition, almost nothing is known about the genetic profile of epithelial tumours of the lacrimal gland. We collected specimens and clinical files on all biopsied lacrimal gland lesions in Denmark over a 34-year period and re-evaluated the diagnosis to provide updated population-based incidence rates and epidemiological characteristics. Clinical data regarding symptoms, clinical examinations, treatment and follow-up were collected for patients with adenoid cystic carcinoma (ACC), pleomorphic adenoma (PA), carcinoma ex pleomorphic adenoma (Ca-ex-PA) and mucoepidermoid carcinoma (MEC). Using RT-PCR, FISH, immunohistochemistry, Q-PCR and high-resolution array-based comparative genomic hybridization (arrayCGH) we explored the genetic characteristics including copy number alterations (CNA) in ACC, PA, Ca-ex-PA and MEC. The incidence of biopsied lacrimal gland lesions was 1.3/1,000,000/year, and ~50% were neoplastic lesions. Of these, 55% were malignant tumours with epithelial tumours as the most frequent. The overall incidence was increasing, and this was caused by an increase in biopsied non-neoplastic lesions. We found that 10/14 ACCs either expressed the MYB-NFIB fusion gene and/or had rearrangements of MYB. All ACCs expressed the MYB protein. ACC was characterized by recurrent copy number losses involving 6q, 12q and 17q and gains involving 19q, 8q and 11q. ArrayCGH revealed an apparently normal genomic profile in 11/19 PAs. The remaining 8 PAs had recurrent copy number losses involving 1p, 6q, 8q and 13q and gain involving 9p. PA expressed PLAG1 in all tumours whereas only 2/29 tumours expressed HMGA2. Ca-ex-PA was characterized by recurrent copy number gain involving 22q. PLAG1 was expressed in 3/5 Ca-ex-PA whereas none of these tumours expressed HMGA2. MEC expressed the CRTC1-MAML2, and this fusion was found to be tumour-specific for lacrimal gland MEC. In conclusion, lacrimal gland lesions that require pathological evaluation are rare in the Danish population, and the incidence rate of biopsied benign lesions is increasing. Epithelial tumours of the lacrimal gland are molecularly very similar to their salivary gland counterparts in the expression of the tumour-specific fusion genes and in their genomic imbalances as demonstrated by arrayCGH. MYB-NFIB is a useful biomarker for ACC and MYB, and its downstream target genes may be potential therapeutic targets for these tumours.

Stenman G, Persson F, Andersson MK
Diagnostic and therapeutic implications of new molecular biomarkers in salivary gland cancers.
Oral Oncol. 2014; 50(8):683-90 [PubMed] Related Publications
Salivary gland carcinomas (SGCs) are uncommon tumors, constituting approximately 5% of all cancers of the head and neck. They are a heterogeneous group of diseases that pose significant diagnostic and therapeutic challenges. The treatment of patients with SGCs is mainly restricted to surgery and/or radiation therapy and there is only limited data available on the role of conventional systemic and targeted therapies in the management of patients with advanced disease. There is thus a great need to develop new molecular biomarkers to improve the diagnosis, prognostication, and therapeutic options for these patients. In this review, we will discuss the most recent developments in this field, with focus on pathognomonic gene fusions and other driver mutations of clinical significance. Comprehensive cytogenetic and molecular genetic analyses of SGCs have revealed a translocation-generated network of fusion oncogenes. The molecular targets of these fusions are transcription factors, transcriptional coactivators, and tyrosine kinase receptors. Prominent examples of clinically significant fusions are the MYB-NFIB fusion in adenoid cystic carcinoma and the CRTC1-MAML2 fusion in mucoepidermoid carcinoma. The fusions are key events in the molecular pathogenesis of these tumor types and contribute as new diagnostic, prognostic, and therapeutic biomarkers. Moreover, next-generation sequencing analysis of SGCs have revealed new druggable driver mutations, pinpointing alternative therapeutic options for subsets of patients. Continued molecular characterization of these fusions and their down-stream targets will ultimately lead to the identification of novel driver genes in SGCs and will form the basis for development of new therapeutic strategies for these patients.

Acunzo M, Romano G, Wernicke D, et al.
Translocation t(2;11) in CLL cells results in CXCR4/MAML2 fusion oncogene.
Blood. 2014; 124(2):259-62 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
Recent investigations of chromosomal aberrations in chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) led to a better understanding of the molecular causes of CLL. Here we report a rearrangement between MAML2 (mastermind-like protein 2) and CXCR4 (specific receptor for CXC chemokine stromal cell-derived factor-1) in CLL cells of a patient with a t(2;11)(q22.1;q21) chromosomal translocation. The rearrangement between MAML2 and CXCR4, created by a t(2;11)(q22.1;q21) translocation, results in a new fusion gene in which a portion of CXCR4 is linked to the MAML2 gene. This fusion gene encodes for CXCR4/MAML2 protein chimera in which the N-terminal basic domain of MAML2 is replaced by the N-terminal domain of CXCR4.

Roden AC, García JJ, Wehrs RN, et al.
Histopathologic, immunophenotypic and cytogenetic features of pulmonary mucoepidermoid carcinoma.
Mod Pathol. 2014; 27(11):1479-88 [PubMed] Related Publications
Pulmonary mucoepidermoid carcinoma is an uncommon but distinctive manifestation of mucoepidermoid carcinoma. Pulmonary mucoepidermoid carcinoma occurs in adults and children and can cause diagnostic problems, especially in small biopsies. Few studies have characterized the histologic and immunophenotypic features of pulmonary mucoepidermoid carcinoma. t(11;19)(q21;p13) is considered disease-defining for mucoepidermoid carcinoma; its significance in pulmonary mucoepidermoid carcinoma warrants further study. Forty three pulmonary mucoepidermoid carcinomas were re-reviewed and graded according to the Brandwein grading system for mucoepidermoid carcinoma. Four cases were excluded because of a split opinion between pathology report and re-review. These cases were negative for MAML2 rearrangement by FISH. TTF-1, napsin A, p40 and p63 immunostains were scored: 0 (negative), 1 (1-25% tumor cells), 2 (26-50%), 3 (51-75%) or 4 (>75%). FISH to detect MAML2 rearrangement used a MAML2-11q21 break-apart probe. Thirty nine pulmonary mucoepidermoid carcinoma (4 low, 30 intermediate, 5 high grade) contained mucous, epidermoid and intermediate cells and lacked keratinization and in situ carcinoma of the overlying epithelium. All cases with available gross description (n=22) had a central/endo- or peribronchial location. All 25 cases tested for immunohistochemistry were positive (scores 1-4) for p63; 23 also expressed p40. In six cases, the p63 score was higher than p40. TTF-1 and napsin were uniformly negative in all 25 cases. MAML2 rearrangement was identified by FISH in each of the 24 cases tested (3 low, 19 intermediate, 2 high grade). Clinical history was available in 29 patients (15 men) (median age, 48 years) with follow-up in 24 (median, 8.4 years). Five patients died of unrelated causes; one developed metastatic pulmonary mucoepidermoid carcinoma. In conclusion, features helpful in distinguishing pulmonary mucoepidermoid carcinoma from other lung cancers include its central/endo- or peribronchial location together with the presence of mucous cells, p63 expression, lack of keratinization and MAML2 rearrangement. TTF-1 and napsin are typically not expressed.

Bishop JA, Yonescu R, Batista D, et al.
Glandular odontogenic cysts (GOCs) lack MAML2 rearrangements: a finding to discredit the putative nature of GOC as a precursor to central mucoepidermoid carcinoma.
Head Neck Pathol. 2014; 8(3):287-90 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
Glandular odontogenic cyst (GOC) is a cyst of the gnathic bones that is characterized by squamous and glandular differentiation. The histopathologic features of GOC overlap considerably with central mucoepidermoid carcinoma (MEC), suggesting that GOC could be a precursor lesion to, or even a low-grade form of, central MEC. Differentiating the two lesions may be difficult or impossible on a limited biopsy. MAML2 rearrangements have been recently found to be specific for MEC, even those arising in the jaws. An analysis of MAML2 in GOCs could help clarify its relationship with central MEC. Tissue blocks from 21 GOCs and 5 central MECs were retrieved from the surgical pathology archives of The Johns Hopkins Hospital. Each MEC exhibited solid areas and clear-cut stromal invasion. In addition, 4 of the MECs demonstrated cystic areas that were histologically similar to GOC. Break-apart fluorescence in situ hybridization for MAML2 was performed. For the MECs, analysis was performed on both the solid components and the cystic areas that resembled GOC. MAML2 rearrangements were identified in all 5 of the MECs, but in none of the 21 GOCs (100 vs. 0 %; p < 0.0001, Fisher's Exact). In the MECs, the rearrangement was present in both the solid and GOC-like cystic areas. While central MECs consistently harbor the MAML2 rearrangement, even in low-grade cystic areas that resemble a pre-existing GOC, true GOCs do not. Accordingly, GOC does not appear to represent an early or low-grade form of central MEC, but rather an unrelated lesion. The high sensitivity and specificity of MAML2 rearrangement for MECs points to its utility as a diagnostic adjunct in separating mucinous cystic lesions of the gnathic bones.

Yamatani C, Abe M, Shimoji M, et al.
Pulmonary adenosquamous carcinoma with mucoepidermoid carcinoma-like component with characteristic p63 staining pattern: either a novel subtype originating from bronchial epithelium or variant mucoepidermoid carcinoma.
Lung Cancer. 2014; 84(1):45-50 [PubMed] Related Publications
BACKGROUND: Our previous study found unique adenosquamous carcinomas (ADSQs) containing a mucoepidermoid carcinoma (MEC)-like component and a characteristic p63 staining pattern. This study focused on these unique ADSQs.
METHODS: Thirty ADSQ cases were studied histologically and by immunohistochemistry for TTF-1 and p63. Of these 30 ADSQs, eight were selected as unique ADSQs. The clinicopathological characteristics of these ADSQs were further studied, and the gene rearrangement of mammalian mastermind-like 2 (MAML2) was investigated by fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH) for differentiation from pulmonary MEC.
RESULTS: The clinicopathological characteristics between the eight ADSQs and the other ADSQ cases showed no statistically significant differences, except for serum CEA level. Histologically, the eight ADSQs contained varying degrees of the MEC-like component, which consisted of solid nests with mucin-filled cysts or a cribriform-like structure. Immunohistochemically, p63-positive nuclei characteristically encircled the tumor nests, although TTF-1 was completely negative. All unique ADSQs not only had a variable degree of squamous cell carcinoma component in addition to the MEC-like component, but also contained a small tubular adenocarcinoma component in three tumors. FISH analysis revealed no MAML2 gene rearrangement in the eight ADSQs.
CONCLUSIONS: Of the 30 ADSQs investigated in this study, eight contained a MEC-like component with a characteristic p63 basilar staining pattern similar to that of bronchial basal cells. These unique ADSQs shared clinical characteristics with ordinary ADSQs, but clinicopathologically differed from pulmonary ordinary MEC. Therefore, these unique ADSQs may be either a novel ADSQ subtype originating from bronchial epithelium or variant-type MEC.

von Holstein SL, Fehr A, Persson M, et al.
Lacrimal gland pleomorphic adenoma and carcinoma ex pleomorphic adenoma: genomic profiles, gene fusions, and clinical characteristics.
Ophthalmology. 2014; 121(5):1125-33 [PubMed] Related Publications
PURPOSE: To study genetic alterations in lacrimal gland pleomorphic adenoma (PA) and carcinoma ex pleomorphic adenoma (Ca-ex-PA) with focus on copy number changes and expression patterns of the translocation target genes PLAG1, HMGA2, and CRTC1-MAML2 in relation to clinical data.
DESIGN: Experimental study.
PARTICIPANTS: A total of 36 tumors from 32 patients with lacrimal gland PA or Ca-ex-PA were included in the study.
METHODS: Genome wide, high-resolution array-based comparative genomic hybridization (arrayCGH) and immunohistochemistry were used to study the genomic profiles and expression patterns of the translocation targets PLAG1, HMGA2, and CRTC1-MAML2.
MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Copy number alterations (gains/losses) and protein expression of PLAG1, HMGA2, and CRTC1-MAML2.
RESULTS: Genome-wide arrayCGH analysis revealed normal genomic profiles in 10 of 17 PA samples. The average number of genomic imbalances per tumor was 3.25 (range, 1-7) in primary and recurrent PAs with alterations compared with 7.7 (range, 4-12) in Ca-ex-PAs. Five recurrent copy number alterations were identified in PAs, including losses of 1pter-p31.3, 6q22.1-q24.3, 8q24.22-q24.3, and 13q21.31-q21.33, and gain of 9p23-p22.3. Gain of 9p23-p22.3 also was seen in a Ca-ex-PA. In Ca-ex-PA, gain of 22q12.3-qter was the only recurrent alteration. Detailed analysis of the array data identified NFIB and PDGFB as the 2 major candidate target oncogenes that may be activated as a result of copy number gains involving 9p and 22q. Both genes have been implicated in the pathogenesis of PA and other types of salivary gland tumors. Immunohistochemical analysis revealed frequent overexpression of the translocation target gene PLAG1 in PAs and in 1 Ca-ex-PA. In contrast, overexpression of HMGA2 was observed in only a small subset of PAs. The CRTC1-MAML2 fusion oncoprotein was overexpressed in 2 mucoepidermoid Ca-ex-PAs.
CONCLUSIONS: Lacrimal and salivary gland PAs and Ca-ex-PAs have similar genomic profiles and frequently overexpress the PLAG1 oncoprotein. Copy number gains involving 9p23-p22.3 (NFIB) and 22q12-qter (PDGFB) may be of importance for disease progression in a subset of lacrimal gland PAs.

Valouev A, Weng Z, Sweeney RT, et al.
Discovery of recurrent structural variants in nasopharyngeal carcinoma.
Genome Res. 2014; 24(2):300-9 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
We present the discovery of genes recurrently involved in structural variation in nasopharyngeal carcinoma (NPC) and the identification of a novel type of somatic structural variant. We identified the variants with high complexity mate-pair libraries and a novel computational algorithm specifically designed for tumor-normal comparisons, SMASH. SMASH combines signals from split reads and mate-pair discordance to detect somatic structural variants. We demonstrate a >90% validation rate and a breakpoint reconstruction accuracy of 3 bp by Sanger sequencing. Our approach identified three in-frame gene fusions (YAP1-MAML2, PTPLB-RSRC1, and SP3-PTK2) that had strong levels of expression in corresponding NPC tissues. We found two cases of a novel type of structural variant, which we call "coupled inversion," one of which produced the YAP1-MAML2 fusion. To investigate whether the identified fusion genes are recurrent, we performed fluorescent in situ hybridization (FISH) to screen 196 independent NPC cases. We observed recurrent rearrangements of MAML2 (three cases), PTK2 (six cases), and SP3 (two cases), corresponding to a combined rate of structural variation recurrence of 6% among tested NPC tissues.

Skálová A, Vanecek T, Simpson RH, et al.
CRTC1-MAML2 and CRTC3-MAML2 fusions were not detected in metaplastic Warthin tumor and metaplastic pleomorphic adenoma of salivary glands.
Am J Surg Pathol. 2013; 37(11):1743-50 [PubMed] Related Publications
The recurrent translocations t(11;19) and t(11;15) resulting in CRTC1-MAML2 or CRTC3-MAML2 fusion oncogenes, respectively, are identified in a large proportion of mucoepidermoid carcinomas (MECs) of the salivary gland and have impact on prognosis. However, there are conflicting data on the specificity of this translocation, in particular, on its putative occurrence in Warthin tumor (WT) of the parotid gland as reported in few previous cases. It was speculated that extensive squamous metaplasia could explain the presence of t(11;19) translocation in a subset of WTs. We evaluated 76 salivary gland tumors, including 16 cases of metaplastic WT and 8 cases of pleomorphic adenoma (PA) with squamous and/or mucinous metaplasia, extensive enough morphologically to mimic MEC. Detection of CRTC1-MAML2 and CRTC3-MAML2 fusion transcripts and MAML2 gene break was performed using nested reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction and fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH), respectively. None of 16 analyzed metaplastic WTs showed positivity for fusion transcripts CRTC1-MAML2 or CRTC3-MAML2, and none showed rearrangement of the MAML2 gene by FISH. Similarly, we did not detect these transcripts or break of MAML2 gene in any case of PA with extensive squamous/mucinous metaplasia. For comparison, 40 cases of low-grade MEC were also evaluated. CRTC1-MAML2 and CRTC3-MAML2 fusion transcripts were detected in 17 and 5 cases, respectively. The FISH method using break-apart probe demonstrated the MAML2 gene rearrangement in 25 cases of low-grade MEC. In contrast to low-grade MEC, neither metaplastic WTs nor metaplastic PAs harbored translocations t(11;19) and anticipated t(11;15) resulting in CRTC1-MAML2 and CRTC3-MAML2 fusion transcripts, respectively, and/or MAML2 gene rearrangement.

Chen Z, Chen J, Gu Y, et al.
Aberrantly activated AREG-EGFR signaling is required for the growth and survival of CRTC1-MAML2 fusion-positive mucoepidermoid carcinoma cells.
Oncogene. 2014; 33(29):3869-77 [PubMed] Related Publications
Salivary gland tumors (SGT) are a group of highly heterogeneous head and neck malignancies with widely varied clinical outcomes and no standard effective treatments. The CRTC1-MAML2 fusion oncogene, encoded by a recurring chromosomal translocation t(11;19)(q14-21;p12-13), is a frequent genetic alteration found in >50% of mucoepidermoid carcinomas (MEC), the most common malignant SGT. In this study, we aimed to define the role of the CRTC1-MAML2 oncogene in the maintenance of MEC tumor growth and to investigate critical downstream target genes and pathways for therapeutic targeting of MEC. By performing gene expression analyses and functional studies via RNA interference and pharmacological modulation, we determined the importance of the CRTC1-MAML2 fusion gene and its downstream AREG-EGFR signaling in human MEC cancer cell growth and survival in vitro and in vivo using human MEC xenograft models. We found that CRTC1-MAML2 fusion oncogene was required for the growth and survival of fusion-positive human MEC cancer cells in vitro and in vivo. The CRTC1-MAML2 oncoprotein induced the upregulation of the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) ligand Amphiregulin (AREG) by co-activating the transcription factor CREB, and AREG subsequently activated EGFR signaling in an autocrine manner that promoted MEC cell growth and survival. Importantly, CRTC1-MAML2-positive MEC cells were highly sensitive to EGFR signaling inhibition. Therefore, our study revealed that aberrantly activated AREG-EGFR signaling is required for CRTC1-MAML2-positive MEC cell growth and survival, suggesting that EGFR-targeted therapies will benefit patients with advanced, unresectable CRTC1-MAML2-positive MEC.

Nakano T, Yamamoto H, Hashimoto K, et al.
HER2 and EGFR gene copy number alterations are predominant in high-grade salivary mucoepidermoid carcinoma irrespective of MAML2 fusion status.
Histopathology. 2013; 63(3):378-92 [PubMed] Related Publications
AIMS: In this study, we aimed to investigate the molecular mechanisms underlying the development of mucoepidermoid carcinoma (MEC).
METHODS AND RESULTS: In 31 cases, we examined the MAML2 fusion status using reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction, and HER2 and EGFR status using immunohistochemistry and chromogenic in-situ hybridization. MAML2 fusions were detected in 15 (57.7%) of 26 MECs analysed, including 11 of 16 (68.8%) low-grade, two of four (50%) intermediate-grade and two of six (33.3%) high-grade MECs. HER2 gene amplification and an increased EGFR gene copy number (with balanced chromosome 7 high-polysomy) were each detected in four of 28 (14.3%) MECs analysed. Irrespective of MAML2 fusion status, all seven high-grade MECs had an increased gene copy number of either HER2 or EGFR, in a mutually exclusive manner, whereas such abnormalities were extremely rare in low- and intermediate-grade MEC.
CONCLUSIONS: These results suggest that HER2 or EGFR gene abnormality could play an important role in the development of high-grade MEC, and also in the progression from MAML2 fusion-positive low-/intermediate-grade to high-grade in a subset of MEC. Furthermore, we suggest that high-grade MEC comprises a heterogeneous group of tumours in terms of molecular pathogenesis, in particular MAML2 fusion status.

Cazorla A, Viennet G, Uro-Coste E, Valmary-Degano S
Mucoepidermoid carcinoma: A yet unreported cancer associated with familial adenomatous polyposis.
J Craniomaxillofac Surg. 2014; 42(3):262-4 [PubMed] Related Publications
Turcot's syndrome is a rare clinical syndrome, characterized by the association between familial adenomatous polyposis (FAP) and a primary central nervous system tumour. Gardner's syndrome is characterized by the association between FAP and several tumour types such as multiple osteomas, fibromas, epidermoid cysts and desmoid tumours. We report here the case of a twenty-six year-old woman with a history of both Turcot's and Gardner syndromes. She had a family history of adenomatous polyposis with a mutation in the APC (Adenomatous Polyposis Coli) gene. At the age of 26, she presented a mucoepidermoid carcinoma of the right parotid gland in which the MECT1-MAML2 fusion was showed. We discuss the possible addition of this latter cancer type in the definition of Gardner's syndrome.

Stenman G
Fusion oncogenes in salivary gland tumors: molecular and clinical consequences.
Head Neck Pathol. 2013; 7 Suppl 1:S12-9 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
Salivary gland tumors constitute a heterogeneous group of uncommon diseases that pose significant diagnostic and therapeutic challenges. However, the recent discovery of a translocation-generated gene fusion network in salivary gland carcinomas as well in benign salivary gland tumors opens up new avenues for improved diagnosis, prognostication, and development of specific targeted therapies. The gene fusions encode novel fusion oncoproteins or ectopically expressed normal or truncated oncoproteins. The major targets of the translocations are transcriptional coactivators, tyrosine kinase receptors, and transcription factors involved in growth factor signaling and cell cycle regulation. Notably, several of these targets or pathways activated by these targets are druggable. Examples of clinically significant gene fusions in salivary gland cancers are the MYB-NFIB fusion specific for adenoid cystic carcinoma, the CRTC1-MAML2 fusion typical of low/intermediate-grade mucoepidermoid carcinoma, and the recently identified ETV6-NTRK3 fusion in mammary analogue secretory carcinoma. Similarly, gene fusions involving the PLAG1 and HMGA2 oncogenes are specific for benign pleomorphic adenomas. Continued studies of the molecular consequences of these fusion oncoproteins and their down-stream targets will ultimately lead to the identification of novel driver genes in salivary gland neoplasms and will also form the basis for the development of new therapeutic strategies for salivary gland cancers and, perhaps, other neoplasms.

Bell D, El-Naggar AK
Molecular heterogeneity in mucoepidermoid carcinoma: conceptual and practical implications.
Head Neck Pathol. 2013; 7(1):23-7 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
Mucoepidermoid carcinoma (MEC), the most common salivary gland malignancy of the upper aerodigestive tract and tracheobronchial tree, is also known for its considerable cellular heterogeneity including epidermoid, intermediate and mucin producing cells. Despite this structural and cellular heterogeneity, MEC is uniquely characterized by a specific translocation t(11; 19) (q12; p13), resulting in a fusion between the MECT1 and the MAML2 genes. Although the incidence of this fusion in MEC varies, it is generally accepted that more than 50 % of this entity manifest the MECT1-MAML2. Fusion-positive cases showed significantly better survival than fusion-negative cases, suggesting that MECT1-MAML2 represents a specific prognostic molecular marker in MEC. We contend that fusion in MEC represents a distinct mechanism in the development of this entity. In that context, fusion positive MEC, regardless of grade, manifest a more stable genome and better clinical behaviour, while fusion negative MEC represent a distinctly different pathway characterized by marked genomic instability and relatively aggressive tumors.

Noda H, Okumura Y, Nakayama T, et al.
Clinicopathological significance of MAML2 gene split in mucoepidermoid carcinoma.
Cancer Sci. 2013; 104(1):85-92 [PubMed] Related Publications
CRTC1-MAML2 and CRTC3-MAML2 fusions have been associated with favorable clinicopathological features of mucoepidermoid carcinomas. However, the significance of the MAML2 gene split has not been fully clarified. In the present study, 95 mucoepidermoid carcinomas (paraffin-embedded materials) were analyzed for CRTC1-MAML2 and CRTC3-MAML2 fusions by RT-PCR and for the MAML2 gene split by FISH. Quantitative RT-PCR for the CRTC1-MAML2 transcript was performed in selected cases. MLL gene involvement, which has been reported in some leukemia cases, was examined by FISH in fusion partner-unknown cases. CRTC1-MAML2 and CRTC3-MAML2 fusions were detected in 37 and 6 cases, respectively. The MAML2 gene split was detected in 62 cases, which included all CRTC1/3-MAML2 fusion-positive cases. The level of CRTC1-MAML2 transcript expression was highly variable, and its clinicopathological impact was unclear. The MLL gene split was not detected. Mucoepidermoid carcinomas negative for CRTC1/3-MAML2 and positive for the MAML2 gene split (n = 19) showed favorable clinicopathological tumor features similar to those positive for CRTC1/3-MAML2 fusions. Compared with negative cases (n = 33), mucoepidermoid carcinomas positive for the MAML2 split (n = 62) were associated with lower patient age, a mild female predilection, a smaller tumor size, less frequent nodal metastasis, a lower clinical stage, a lower histological grade, and longer overall and disease-free survival. The MAML2 gene split emerged as an independent prognostic factor for both overall and disease-free survival in multivariate prognostic analysis. The presence of the MAML2 gene split defines a distinct mucoepidermoid carcinoma subset that is associated clinicopathologically with favorable tumor features.

Jee KJ, Persson M, Heikinheimo K, et al.
Genomic profiles and CRTC1-MAML2 fusion distinguish different subtypes of mucoepidermoid carcinoma.
Mod Pathol. 2013; 26(2):213-22 [PubMed] Related Publications
Mucoepidermoid carcinoma is the most common salivary gland malignancy, and includes a spectrum of lesions ranging from non-aggressive low-grade tumors to aggressive high-grade tumors. To further characterize this heterogeneous group of tumors we have performed a comprehensive analysis of copy number alterations and CRTC1-MAML2 fusion status in a series of 28 mucoepidermoid carcinomas. The CRTC1-MAML2 fusion was detected by RT-PCR or fluorescence in situ hybridization in 18 of 28 mucoepidermoid carcinomas (64%). All 15 low-grade tumors were fusion-positive whereas only 3 of 13 high-grade tumors were fusion-positive. High-resolution array-based comparative genomic hybridization revealed that fusion-positive tumors had significantly fewer copy number alterations/tumor compared with fusion-negative tumors (1.5 vs 9.5; P=0.002). Twelve of 18 fusion-positive tumors had normal genomic profiles whereas only 1 out of 10 fusion-negative tumors lacked copy number alterations. The profiles of fusion-positive and fusion-negative tumors were very similar to those of low- and high-grade tumors. Thus, low-grade mucoepidermoid carcinomas had significantly fewer copy number alterations/tumor compared with high-grade mucoepidermoid carcinomas (0.7 vs 8.6; P<0.0001). The most frequent copy number alterations detected were losses of 18q12.2-qter (including the tumor suppressor genes DCC, SMAD4, and GALR1), 9p21.3 (including the tumor suppressor genes CDKN2A/B), 6q22.1-q23.1, and 8pter-p12.1, and gains of 8q24.3 (including the oncogene MAFA), 11q12.3-q13.2, 3q26.1-q28, 19p13.2-p13.11, and 8q11.1-q12.2 (including the oncogenes LYN, MOS, and PLAG1). On the basis of these results we propose that mucoepidermoid carcinoma may be subdivided in (i) low-grade, fusion-positive mucoepidermoid carcinomas with no or few genomic imbalances and favorable prognosis, (ii) high-grade, fusion-positive mucoepidermoid carcinomas with multiple genomic imbalances and unfavorable prognosis, and (iii) a heterogeneous group of high-grade, fusion-negative adenocarcinomas with multiple genomic imbalances and unfavorable outcome. Taken together, our studies indicate that molecular genetic analysis can be a useful adjunct to histologic scoring of mucoepidermoid carcinoma and may lead to development of new clinical guidelines for management of these patients.

Clauditz TS, Gontarewicz A, Wang CJ, et al.
11q21 rearrangement is a frequent and highly specific genetic alteration in mucoepidermoid carcinoma.
Diagn Mol Pathol. 2012; 21(3):134-7 [PubMed] Related Publications
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.

Rotellini M, Paglierani M, Pepi M, Franchi A
MAML2 rearrangement in Warthin's tumour: a fluorescent in situ hybridisation study of metaplastic variants.
J Oral Pathol Med. 2012; 41(8):615-20 [PubMed] Related Publications
BACKGROUND: Warthin's tumour (WT) is a common benign lesion of the major salivary glands. The nature of WT remains controversial, with particular regard to the presence of clonal chromosomal abnormalities, including the t(11;19) translocation involving the CRTC1 and MAML2 genes, that have been identified in both WT and mucoepidermoid carcinoma. In this study, we focused our attention on metaplastic WT variants, and we conducted a fluorescent in situ hybridisation (FISH) analysis for the presence of MAML2 gene rearrangement.
METHODS: Dual-colour FISH analysis was performed on paraffin-embedded sections of eight WTs showing metaplastic changes (five with squamous metaplasia, two with mucinous metaplasia and one with both) using a MAML2 break-apart probe.
RESULTS: Presence of split signals indicative of gene rearrangement was identified in a subset of cells in areas of squamous metaplasia in two samples of WT. No rearrangement was observed in the oncocytic epithelium, in lymphocytes and in areas of mucinous metaplasia.
CONCLUSIONS: The presence of a small subpopulation of cells carrying MAML2 rearrangement in areas of squamous metaplasia within WT could predispose these lesions to malignant transformation in mucoepidermoid carcinoma and could represent a molecular link between the two entities.

Nalesnik MA, Tseng G, Ding Y, et al.
Gene deletions and amplifications in human hepatocellular carcinomas: correlation with hepatocyte growth regulation.
Am J Pathol. 2012; 180(4):1495-508 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
Tissues from 98 human hepatocellular carcinomas (HCCs) obtained from hepatic resections were subjected to somatic copy number variation (CNV) analysis. Most of these HCCs were discovered in livers resected for orthotopic transplantation, although in a few cases, the tumors themselves were the reason for the hepatectomies. Genomic analysis revealed deletions and amplifications in several genes, and clustering analysis based on CNV revealed five clusters. The LSP1 gene had the most cases with CNV (46 deletions and 5 amplifications). High frequencies of CNV were also seen in PTPRD (21/98), GNB1L (18/98), KIAA1217 (18/98), RP1-1777G6.2 (17/98), ETS1 (11/98), RSU1 (10/98), TBC1D22A (10/98), BAHCC1 (9/98), MAML2 (9/98), RAB1B (9/98), and YIF1A (9/98). The existing literature regarding hepatocytes or other cell types has connected many of these genes to regulation of cytoskeletal architecture, signaling cascades related to growth regulation, and transcription factors directly interacting with nuclear signaling complexes. Correlations with existing literature indicate that genomic lesions associated with HCC at the level of resolution of CNV occur on many genes associated directly or indirectly with signaling pathways operating in liver regeneration and hepatocyte growth regulation.

Von Holstein SL, Fehr A, Heegaard S, et al.
CRTC1-MAML2 gene fusion in mucoepidermoid carcinoma of the lacrimal gland.
Oncol Rep. 2012; 27(5):1413-6 [PubMed] Related Publications
Epithelial tumors of the lacrimal gland are histologically similar to salivary gland tumors. Here we report on a rare case of mucoepidermoid carcinoma (MEC) in a 73‑year-old man with a swelling of the left lacrimal gland. The tumor had a microscopic appearance consistent with a classical low-grade MEC of the lacrimal gland. There were no signs of recurrence or metastases during a five-year follow-up. Using RT-PCR and FISH we demonstrated that the tumor was positive for the CRTC1-MAML2 gene fusion previously shown to be associated with in particular low-grade salivary MECs with favorable prognosis. By immunohistochemistry we showed that the majority of tumor cells, including epidermoid, intermediate and mucous producing cells, expressed the CRTC1-MAML2 fusion protein. In contrast, 15 non-MEC lacrimal neoplasm were fusion-negative. Our findings show that lacrimal MEC is not only clinically and morphologically but also genetically identical to MECs originating from other exocrine glands, including those of the lung, thyroid, cervix and salivary glands. Taken together, the present and previous studies further emphasize the fundamental biologic and genetic similarities among MECs developing from different anatomical sites and organs. Moreover, our findings indicate that the CRTC1-MAML2 fusion may be a useful diagnostic and prognostic biomarker for lacrimal MEC.

Fuesler J, Nagahama Y, Szulewski J, et al.
An arrayed human genomic library constructed in the PAC shuttle vector pJCPAC-Mam2 for genome-wide association studies and gene therapy.
Gene. 2012; 496(2):103-9 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
The various iterations of the HapMap Project and many genome-wide association studies (GWAS) have identified hundreds of potential genes involved in monogenic and multifactorial traits. We constructed an arrayed 115,000-member human genomic library in the PAC shuttle vector pJCPAC-Mam2 that can be propagated in both bacterial and human cells. The library appears to represent a two-fold coverage of the human genome. Transient transfection of a p53-containing PAC clone into p53-null Saos-2 human osteosarcoma cells demonstrated that both p53 mRNA and protein were produced. Additionally, expression of the p53 protein triggered apoptosis in a subset of the Saos-2 cells. This library should serve as a valuable resource to validate potential disease genes identified by GWAS in human cell lines and in animal models. Also, individual library members could potentially be used for gene therapy trials for a variety of recessive disorders.

Kaur J, Mannan R, Duggal P, et al.
Fine needle aspiration diagnosis of ipsilateral synchronous neoplasm - mucoepidermoid carcinoma with warthin tumor in parotid gland.
Gulf J Oncolog. 2012; (11):75-8 [PubMed] Related Publications
Warthin tumor (WT) owing to its heterogeneous appearance, biological behavior and multicentricity poses a diagnostic challenge to cytologists worldwide. We report a rare double pathology of mucoepidermoid carcinoma (MEC) with WT which was diagnosed by fine needle aspiration (FNA). Cytological smears revealed sheets of epithelial cells and small clusters of squamous cells in a background of mucoid material along with a few small groups and scattered oncocytic cells and inflammatory cells (mainly lymphocytes). In view of the cytological findings various differentials such as oncocytic lesions, benign lesions of the parotid with extensive lymphoid reaction, necrotizing sialometaplasia, WT with extensive squamous/mucoid metaplasia, metastatic squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) with or without cystic change, oncocytic variant of MEC and a possibility of a synchronous MEC with WT were considered. By means of extensive review of the smears and clinic-pathological meets as discussed below, 2 differential diagnoses were given- MEC with WT versus an oncocytic variant of MEC with "?" lymphoid (tumor response) reaction. Subsequent histopathological examination confirmed the diagnosis of MEC with WT. Recent discovery of t(11; 19) translocation generating a novel fusion gene CRTC1/MAML2 which has been demonstrated in both MEC and WT has helped in providing the missing link in confirming the genetic relatedness and proof of development of a subset of WT with concomitant MEC. The case discusses the FNA findings of a rare collision tumor (MEC with WT), its possible differentials and highlights the importance of noting the background material in a case of double pathology on FNA.

García JJ, Hunt JL, Weinreb I, et al.
Fluorescence in situ hybridization for detection of MAML2 rearrangements in oncocytic mucoepidermoid carcinomas: utility as a diagnostic test.
Hum Pathol. 2011; 42(12):2001-9 [PubMed] Related Publications
Oncocytic mucoepidermoid carcinoma poses diagnostic challenge because of its histologic overlap with other oncocytic salivary gland lesions, including Warthin tumor. Although the prognostic value of the t(11;19) MECT1-MAML2 fusion gene has been established in mucoepidermoid carcinoma, its diagnostic use in discriminating oncocytic mucoepidermoid carcinoma from histologic mimics is unexplored. We evaluated the translocation status in 14 cases of oncocytic mucoepidermoid carcinoma using a MAML2-11q21 break-apart probe spanning the entire chromosome region of the MAML2 gene and correlated these findings with clinicopathologic parameters including age, sex, stage, predominant growth pattern, grade, and p63 immunostaining pattern. All oncocytic mucoepidermoid carcinomas were parotid tumors with a mean patient age of 54.6 years (range, 9-85) and a female to male ratio of 5:2. Grade distribution was as follows: low grade, 9; intermediate grade, 2; and high grade, 3. The histologic patterns observed were as follows: solid, 4; cystic, 8 (of these, 5 had Warthin-like lymphoid stroma); and mixed, 2. Solid oncocytic mucoepidermoid carcinomas showed a diffuse p63 staining pattern, whereas cystic oncocytic mucoepidermoid carcinomas showed staining of the outer layer of intermediate cells ranging from a bilayer to areas of complex multilayering and plaque-like proliferation. Ten (71%) of the 14 cases showed a MAML2 rearrangement by fluorescence in situ hybridization. No correlation was seen between rearrangement status and histologic grade, growth pattern, or p63 staining pattern. However, we demonstrate that the presence of MAML2 rearrangement can be used as supportive evidence to distinguish oncocytic mucoepidermoid carcinoma from other oncocytic lesions.

Fujimaki M, Fukumura Y, Saito T, et al.
Oncocytic mucoepidermoid carcinoma of the parotid gland with CRTC1-MAML2 fusion transcript: report of a case with review of literature.
Hum Pathol. 2011; 42(12):2052-5 [PubMed] Related Publications
Oncocytic mucoepidermoid carcinoma is a very rare variant of mucoepidermoid carcinoma, composed predominantly of oncocytic cells. Most previously reported cases described the difficulty in histologic differentiation from other oncocytic tumors. Here we report a case of oncocytic mucoepidermoid carcinoma of parotid gland diagnosed by the detection of CRTC1-MAML2 fusion. A 53-year-old man had a left superficial parotidectomy conducted for 3-cm-sized mass. The resected tumor was composed almost exclusively of oncocytic tumor cells. With detailed histologic evaluation, scarce vacuolated tumor cells, suggestive of mucous cell of mucoepidermoid carcinoma, and one focus of tumor embolism in a vein were found, suggesting the possibility of oncocytic mucoepidermoid carcinoma. Immunohistochemically, oncocytic cells were diffusely positive for p63. Reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction and direct sequencing revealed CRTC1-MAML2 translocation of this tumor. To our knowledge, this report describes the first case of oncocytic mucoepidermoid carcinoma confirmed with CRTC1-MAML2 fusion. Identification of this fusion gene may help in distinguishing oncocytic mucoepidermoid carcinoma from its mimics.

Hunt JL
An update on molecular diagnostics of squamous and salivary gland tumors of the head and neck.
Arch Pathol Lab Med. 2011; 135(5):602-9 [PubMed] Related Publications
CONTEXT: Molecular testing in anatomic pathology is becoming standardized and can contribute valuable diagnostic, therapeutic, and prognostic information for the clinical management of patients. In head and neck pathology, recent advances in molecular testing have provided important targets in several different diagnostic areas, with particular emerging clinical applications in squamous and salivary gland pathology. In squamous mucosal-derived lesions, human papilloma virus has emerged as an important pathogenic etiology in a subset of oropharyngeal squamous cell carcinomas. Within the category of salivary gland tumors, 3 tumors have recently been recognized that contain oncogenic translocations.
OBJECTIVE: To describe the current state of information about the molecular alterations in squamous lesions and in salivary gland tumors of the head and neck.
DATA SOURCES: Published literature on squamous and salivary gland tumors of the head and neck.
CONCLUSIONS: The different approaches to identification of viral-associated tumors include assays using polymerase chain reaction, in situ hybridization, and immunohistochemistry. Most mucoepidermoid carcinomas harbor MECT1-MAML2 gene rearrangement. The MYB-NFIB translocations have recently been identified in adenoid cystic carcinomas. Finally, a newly described tumor of salivary gland, mammary analogue secretory carcinoma, harbors the ETV6-NTRK3 translocation. Although these translocations are just emerging as diagnostic targets, future roles may evolve as potential therapeutic targets.

Antonescu CR, Katabi N, Zhang L, et al.
EWSR1-ATF1 fusion is a novel and consistent finding in hyalinizing clear-cell carcinoma of salivary gland.
Genes Chromosomes Cancer. 2011; 50(7):559-70 [PubMed] Related Publications
Hyalinizing clear-cell carcinoma (HCCC) is a rare, low-grade salivary gland tumor with distinctive clear-cell morphology and pattern of hyalinization as well as focal mucinous differentiation. However, histological overlap exists with other salivary gland tumors, such as epithelial-myoepithelial carcinoma (EMCa), salivary myoepithelial carcinoma, and mucoepidermoid carcinoma (MEC). The potential relationship between HCCC and its morphological mimics has not been yet investigated at the genetic level. In this study, we conducted a molecular analysis for the presence of rearrangements in MAML2, commonly seen in MECs, and EWSR1, involved in "soft tissue myoepithelial tumors" (SMET) by fusion with POU5F1, PBX1, or ZNF444. Fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH) was performed on 23 HCCC cases for abnormalities in MAML2, EWSR1, FUS, POU5F1, PBX1, and ZNF444. FISH for MAML2 was negative in all cases (0 of 14), including those with mucinous differentiation (0 of 7). An EWSR1 rearrangement was identified in 18 of 22 HCCCs (82%), while no break-apart signals were seen in FUS, POU5F1, PBX1, or ZNF444. 3'RACE on an EWSR1 rearranged HCCC identified an EWSR1-ATF1 fusion, which was confirmed by RT-PCR. ATF1 involvement was further confirmed by FISH analysis in 13 of 14 EWSR1-rearranged HCCC cases (93%). In contrast, all control cases tested, including among others 5 EMCa and 3 MEC with clear cells, were negative for EWSR1 and ATF1 rearrangements. The presence of EWSR1-ATF1 fusion in most HCCCs reliably separates these tumors from its histological mimics. The distinction from MEC is particularly important, as conventional MEC grading schemes overgrade these indolent HCCCs, potentially impacting on treatment.

Brabletz S, Bajdak K, Meidhof S, et al.
The ZEB1/miR-200 feedback loop controls Notch signalling in cancer cells.
EMBO J. 2011; 30(4):770-82 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
Notch signalling is important for development and tissue homeostasis and activated in many human cancers. Nevertheless, mutations in Notch pathway components are rare in solid tumours. ZEB1 is an activator of an epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) and has crucial roles in tumour progression towards metastasis. ZEB1 and miR-200 family members repress expression of each other in a reciprocal feedback loop. Since miR-200 members target stem cell factors, ZEB1 indirectly induces stemness maintenance and associated drug resistance. Here, we link ZEB1 and its cancer promoting properties to Notch activation. We show that miR-200 members target Notch pathway components, such as Jagged1 (Jag1) and the mastermind-like coactivators Maml2 and Maml3, thereby mediating enhanced Notch activation by ZEB1. We further detected a coordinated upregulation of Jag1 and ZEB1, associated with reduced miR-200 expression in two aggressive types of human cancer, pancreatic adenocarcinoma and basal type of breast cancer. These findings explain increased Notch signalling in some types of cancers, where mutations in Notch pathway genes are rare. Moreover, they indicate an additional way how ZEB1 exerts its tumour progressing functions.

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