Article Abstract

Molecular genetic alterations in egfr CA-SSR-1 microsatellite and egfr copy number changes are associated with aggressiveness in thymoma

Authors: Salvatore Conti, Enzo Gallo, Stefano Sioletic, Francesco Facciolo, Giovannella Palmieri, Libero Lauriola, Amelia Evoli, Robert Martucci, Anna Di Benedetto, Flavia Novelli, Diana Giannarelli, Gloria Deriu, Pierluigi Granone, Margaret Ottaviano, Paola Muti, Edoardo Pescarmona, Mirella Marino

Abstract

Background: The key role of egfr in thymoma pathogenesis has been questioned following the failure in identifying recurrent genetic alterations of egfr coding sequences and relevant egfr amplification rate. We investigated the role of the non-coding egfr CA simple sequence repeat 1 (CA-SSR-1) in a thymoma case series.
Methods: We used sequencing and egfr-fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH) to genotype 43 thymomas; (I) for polymorphisms and somatic loss of heterozygosity of the non-coding egfr CA-SSR-1 microsatellite and (II) for egfr gene copy number changes.
Results: We found two prevalent CA-SSR-1 genotypes: a homozygous 16 CA repeat and a heterozygous genotype, bearing alleles with 16 and 20 CA repeats. The average combined allele length was correlated with tumor subtype: shorter sequences were significantly associated with the more aggressive WHO thymoma subtype group including B2/B3, B3 and B3/C histotypes. Four out of 29 informative cases analysed for somatic CA-SSR-1 loss of heterozygosity showed allelic imbalance (AI), 3/4 with loss of the longer allele. By egfr-FISH analysis, 9 out of 33 cases were FISH positive. Moreover, the two integrated techniques demonstrated that 3 out of 4 CA-SSR-1-AI positive cases with short allele relative prevalence showed significantly low or high chromosome 7 “polysomy”/increased gene copy number by egfr-FISH.
Conclusions: Our molecular and genetic and follow up data indicated that CA-SSR-1-allelic imbalance with short allele relative prevalence significantly correlated with EGFR 3+ immunohistochemical score, increased egfr Gene Copy Number, advanced stage and with relapsing/metastatic behaviour in thymomas.