Microsecretory Adenocarcinoma: A Novel Salivary Gland Tumor Characterized by a Recurrent MEF2C-SS18 Fusion

Justin A. Bishop, Ilan Weinreb, David Swanson, William H. Westra, Hina S. Qureshi, James Sciubba, Christina Macmillan, Lisa M. Rooper, Brendan C. Dickson

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62 Scopus citations


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.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1023-1032
Number of pages10
JournalAmerican Journal of Surgical Pathology
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 1 2019


  • adenocarcinoma not otherwise specified
  • polymorphous adenocarcinoma
  • salivary glands
  • secretory carcinoma

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anatomy
  • Surgery
  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine


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