USP6 activation in nodular fasciitis by promoter-swapping gene fusions.

Nodular fasciitis is a self-limited myofibroblastic lesion that can be misdiagnosed as a sarcoma as a result of its rapid growth, cellularity, and sometimes prominent mitotic activity. A recurrent translocation t(17;22) has been identified in nodular fasciitis, fusing the coding region of USP6 to the promoter region of MYH9, and resulting in increased USP6 expression. A subset of cases show USP6 rearrangement without the typical fusion variants by RT-PCR, or any MYH9 rearrangement by FISH. We sought to further characterize such tumors using molecular diagnostic tests. A novel RT-PCR test was designed to detect the two known MYH9–USP6 fusion types in formalin-fixed paraffin-embedded and frozen tissue, and a break-apart FISH test was designed to detect USP6 rearrangement. Twenty-six cases of nodular fasciitis diagnosed between 2002 and 2013 were retrieved from the pathology files of our institutions and were confirmed to be positive by FISH and/or RT-PCR. Seven samples showed USP6 rearrangement by FISH but were negative for MYH9–USP6 fusion by RT-PCR; these cases were subjected to a next-generation sequencing (NGS) test utilizing anchored multiplex PCR technology. This test targets a single partner gene associated with fusions in bone and soft tissue tumors for agnostic detection of gene fusion partners. Novel fusion partners were identified in all seven cases and confirmed by RT-PCR. Structurally, all fusions consisted of the juxtaposition of the entire coding region of USP6 with the promoter of the partner gene, driving increased USP6 expression. This study confirms the neoplastic nature of nodular fasciitis, defines additional pathogenic fusion partners, and adds to the growing body of literature on USP6- associated neoplasia. Given the diagnostic challenges of these tumors, molecular tests can be useful ancillary tools; however, the prevalence of promoter swapping must be recognized when interpreting results.

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