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NKX3.1 Expression and Molecular Characterization of Secretory Myoepithelial Carcinoma (SMCA): Advancing the Case for a Salivary Mucous Acinar Phenotype.

Head and Neck Pathology 2023 Februrary 7
BACKGROUND: Secretory myoepithelial carcinomas (SMCA) are rare, mucinous, signet ring predominant tumors with primitive myoepithelial features. While many mucinous salivary gland tumors have now been molecularly characterized, key drivers in SMCA have yet to be elucidated. Recently, NKX3.1, a homeodomain transcription factor implicated in salivary mucous acinar development was also shown in a subset of salivary mucinous neoplasms, salivary intraductal papillary mucinous neoplasms (SG-IPMN). To date, NKX3.1 expression has not been characterized in other mucinous salivary lesions. Here, we report molecular and extended immunophenotypic findings in SMCA and NKX3.1 expression in the context of other head and neck lesions.

METHODS: We retrieved 4 previously reported SMCA, performed additional immunohistochemical and targeted next-generation sequencing (NGS). We also investigated the use of NKX3.1 as a marker for SMCA in the context of its prevalence and extent (using H-score) in a mixed cohort of retrospectively and prospectively tested head and neck lesions (n = 223) and non-neoplastic tissues (n = 66).

RESULTS: NKX3.1 positivity was confirmed in normal mucous acini as well as in mucous acinar class of lesions (5/6, mean H-score: 136.7), including mucinous adenocarcinomas (3/4), SG-IPMN (1/1), and microsecretory adenocarcinoma (MSA) (1/1). All SMCA were positive. Fluorescence in situ hybridization for SS18 rearrangements were negative in all successfully tested cases (0/3). NGS was successful in two cases (cases 3 and 4). Case 3 demonstrated a PTEN c.655C>T p.Q219* mutation and a SEC16A::NOTCH1 fusion while case 4 (clinically aggressive) showed a PTEN c.1026+1G>A p.K342 splice site variant, aTP53 c.524G>A p.R175H mutation and a higher tumor mutation burden (29 per Mb). PTEN immunohistochemical loss was confirmed in both cases and a subset of tumor cells showed strong (extreme) staining for P53 in Case 4.

CONCLUSION: Despite a partial myoepithelial phenotype, SMCA, along with mucinous adenocarcinomas/SG-IPMN and MSA, provisionally constitute a mucous acinar class of tumors based on morphology and NKX3.1 expression. Like salivary mucinous adenocarcinomas/SG-IPMN, SMCA also show alterations of the PTEN/PI3K/AKT pathway and may show progressive molecular alterations. We document the first extramammary tumor with a SEC16A::NOTCH1 fusion.

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