Whole-exome sequencing for ocular adnexal sebaceous carcinoma suggests PCDH15 as a novel mutation associated with metastasis



Ocular adnexal sebaceous carcinoma (OASeC) is an aggressive eyelid carcinoma. Analysis of molecular-genetic drivers of this disease could reveal new prognostic markers and actionable targets for treatment. To identify somatically acquired genomic mutations in OASeC and explore their associations with metastasis, whole-exome sequencing on DNA extracted from retrospectively collected tumor samples was performed. Thirty-one patients in two orbital oncology centers with OASeC were included. Sequencing results were analyzed to detect mutations and explore their possible association with metastasis. The median patient age was 64 years. A total of 1780 candidate somatic mutations were identified with median mutation rate of 1.0/Mb (range, 0.2–13.6). The five most commonly mutated genes (as determined by MutSig; q value < 0.25) were TP53 (mutated in 22 cases), ZNF750 (13 cases), RB1 (12 cases), NOTCH1 (8 cases), and PCDH15 (5 cases). Mutations in ZNF750 or NOTCH1 pathway genes were present in 24 (77%) of the 31 cases; there was a trend toward mutual exclusivity of ZNF750 and NOTCH1 mutations. All eight tumors with NOTCH1 mutations also had TP53 and/or RB1 mutations. Four of the five PCDH15 mutations and all four PCDH15 missense mutations were identified in patients with metastatic disease, including one patient with distant metastasis and three with nodal metastasis. PCDH15 was significantly associated with metastasis (P = 0.01). We identified the most commonly mutated genes in a series of OASeCs and found a previously unreported mutation in OASeC, PCDH15 mutation, that was significantly associated with metastasis. NOTCH1 mutation is an actionable mutation; clinical trials targeting this mutation are available throughout the US and could be considered for patients with metastatic NOTCH1-mutant OASeC. TP53, ZNF750, RB1, and PCDH15 mutations are most likely loss-of-function mutations and may have diagnostic and prognostic importance.

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Fig. 1: Oncoplot of most frequently mutated genes in ocular adnexal sebaceous cell carcinoma (OASeC) cases.
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Supported by the National Cancer Institute under award number P30CA016672, which supports the MD Anderson Cancer Center Clinical Trials Support Resource and by the National Natural Science Foundation of China award number 8180270.

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Correspondence to Bita Esmaeli.

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Xu, S., Moss, T.J., Laura Rubin, M. et al. Whole-exome sequencing for ocular adnexal sebaceous carcinoma suggests PCDH15 as a novel mutation associated with metastasis. Mod Pathol (2020) doi:10.1038/s41379-020-0454-y

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