Salivary gland adenocarcinoma not otherwise specified (NOS) is a heterogenous group, likely containing distinct tumors not yet characterized. A growing number of low to intermediate-grade salivary carcinomas are now known to harbor tumor-specific gene fusions. On occasion, identifying a novel fusion allows for recognition of a new salivary tumor type, in addition to representing a potential diagnostic tool. We sought to characterize a distinctive salivary gland adenocarcinoma that would previously have been regarded as adenocarcinoma NOS. On the basis of the recognition of 5 morphologically identical, distinct low-grade salivary adenocarcinomas, we used targeted RNA sequencing (RNA-Seq) to determine whether these could be differentiated from other fusion-associated salivary gland tumors. RNA-Seq was performed on all 5 low-intermediate grade adenocarcinomas NOS with near-identical histologic appearances, as well as 23 low-intermediate grade control adenocarcinoma NOS cases that did not resemble the index cases. All 5 index cases harbored a novel MEF2C-SS18 gene fusion, which was independently confirmed by reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction. The MEF2C-SS18-positive cases arose in the oral cavity (4/5) and parotid gland (1/5) of 3 women and 2 men ranging from 21 to 80 years (mean: 46) and shared near-identical histologic features: intercalated duct-like cells with eosinophilic to clear cytoplasm and small, uniform oval nuclei, infiltrative microcysts and cords, abundant intraluminal secretions, and cellular fibromyxoid stroma. Mitotic rates were low; necrosis was absent. All MEF2C-SS18-positive tumors were positive for S100 and p63 and negative for p40, smooth muscle actin, calponin, and mammaglobin. One of the 23 control cases, a parotid tumor, was found to contain a SS18-ZBTB7A gene fusion; it demonstrated similar, but not identical histologic and immunophenotypic features compared with the MEF2C-SS18 cases. The remaining control cases were negative for SS18 and MEF2C rearrangements. A novel MEF2C-SS18 gene fusion and unique histologic and immunophenotypic features characterize a heretofore undefined low-grade salivary adenocarcinoma for which we propose the term “microsecretory adenocarcinoma.” RNA-Seq helped establish this entity as a distinct tumor type, and identified one possibly related case with a different SS18-related fusion. The recognition of microsecretory adenocarcinoma and its separation from other adenocarcinomas NOS will facilitate a more complete understanding of the clinical and pathologic characteristics of this previously unrecognized neoplasm.
*Department of Pathology, UT Southwestern Medical Center, Dallas, TX
†Department of Pathology, The Johns Hopkins Hospital
**Milton J. Dance Jr. Head and Neck Center, Greater Baltimore Medical Center, Baltimore, MD
‡Department of Pathology, University Health Network
§Department of Laboratory Medicine and Pathobiology, University of Toronto
∥Department of Pathology & Laboratory Medicine, Mount Sinai Hospital, Toronto, ON, Canada
¶Department of Pathology, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai Hospital, New York, NY
#ProDia Laboratories, Charlottesville, VA
Conflicts of Interest and Source of Funding: The authors have disclosed that they have no significant relationships with, or financial interest in, any commercial companies pertaining to this article.
Correspondence: Justin A. Bishop, MD, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, 6201 Harry Hines Blvd., Dallas, TX 75390-9073 (e-mail: justin.bishop@UTSouthwestern.edu).