In contrast to adult mutant gastrointestinal stromal tumors [GISTs], pediatric/wild-type GISTs remain poorly understood overall, given their lack of oncogenic activating tyrosine kinase mutations. These GISTs, with a predilection for gastric origin in female patients, show limited response to therapy with tyrosine kinase inhibitors and generally pursue a more indolent course, but still may prove fatal. Defective cellular respiration appears to underpin tumor development in these wild-type cases, which as a group lack expression of succinate dehydrogenase [SDH] B, a surrogate marker for respiratory chain metabolism. Yet, only a small subset of the wild-type tumors show mutations in the genes coding for the SDH subunits [SDHx]. To explore additional pathogenetic mechanisms in these wild-type GISTs, we elected to investigate post-transcriptional regulation of these tumors by conducting microRNA (miRNA) profiling of a mixed cohort of 73 cases including 18 gastric pediatric wild-type, 25 (20 gastric, 4 small bowel and 1 retroperitoneal) adult wild-type GISTs and 30 gastric adult mutant GISTs. By this approach we have identified distinct signatures for GIST subtypes which correlate tightly with clinico-pathological parameters. A cluster of miRNAs on 14q32 show strikingly different expression patterns amongst GISTs, a finding which appears to be explained at least in part by differential allelic methylation of this imprinted region. Small bowel and retroperitoneal wild-type GISTs segregate with adult mutant GISTs and express SDHB, while adult wild-type gastric GISTs are dispersed amongst adult mutant and pediatric wild-type cases, clustering in this situation on the basis of SDHB expression. Interestingly, global methylation analysis has recently similarly demonstrated that these wild-type, SDHB-immunonegative tumors show a distinct pattern compared with KIT and PDGFRA mutant tumors, which as a rule do express SDHB. All cases with Carney triad within our cohort cluster together tightly.
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