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Pathologic Characteristics of NUT Midline Carcinoma Arising in the Mediastinum

Evans, Andrew G. MD, PhD*; French, Christopher A. MD*; Cameron, Michael J. MSc*; Fletcher, Christopher D. M. MD, FRCPath*; Jackman, David M. MD; Lathan, Christopher S. MD, MPH; Sholl, Lynette M. MD*

The American Journal of Surgical Pathology: August 2012 - Volume 36 - Issue 8 - p 1222–1227
doi: 10.1097/PAS.0b013e318258f03b
Original Articles

NUT midline carcinomas (NMCs) comprise a group of highly aggressive tumors that have been reported primarily in the head, neck, and mediastinum of younger individuals. These tumors overexpress the nuclear protein in the testis (NUT), most commonly due to a chromosomal translocation that fuses the NUT gene on chromosome 15 with the BRD4 gene on chromosome 19. Although the earliest recognized cases were described in the thymus or mediastinum, an extensive survey for NMCs among malignant thymic or other mediastinal neoplasms has not been reported. We examined NUT expression in 114 cases of poorly differentiated carcinomas or unclassified mediastinal malignancies using a clinically validated NUT-specific monoclonal antibody. Four of 114 (3.5%) cases showed nuclear NUT expression. A NUT translocation was confirmed by fluorescence in situ hybridization in 3 of these cases. These tumors arose in 2 men and 2 women with a median age of 50 years (range, 28 to 68 y). Three of the tumors were originally diagnosed as undifferentiated epithelioid or round cell malignant neoplasms; 1 tumor contained focal squamous differentiation and was originally diagnosed as a poorly differentiated squamous carcinoma of probable thymic origin. We find that the incidence of NMC within the mediastinum, particularly among undifferentiated tumors, is similar to that reported at other anatomic sites. NMC should be considered in the differential diagnosis of any poorly differentiated epithelioid mediastinal tumor, regardless of age.

*Department of Pathology, Brigham and Women’s Hospital

Department of Thoracic Oncology, Dana Farber Cancer Institute, Boston, MA

Conflicts of Interest and Source of Funding: Supported by a Dana Farber/Harvard Cancer Center Nodal Award 5P30CA06516-44 (C.A.F.), US National Institutes of Health grant 1R01CA124633 (C.A.F.), the Samuel Waxman Cancer Research Foundation Reprogramming the Cancer Cell, and the American Association for Cancer Research grant 10-20-03-FREN (C.A.F.). The authors have disclosed that they have no significant relationships with, or financial interest in, any commercial companies pertaining to this article.

Correspondence: Lynette M. Sholl, MD, Department of Pathology, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, 75 Francis Street, Boston, MA 02115 (e-mail:

© 2012 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.