Molecular detection of the ETV6-NTRK3 gene fusion differentiates congenital fibrosarcoma from other childhood spindle cell tumors

Am J Surg Pathol. 2000 Jul;24(7):937-46. doi: 10.1097/00000478-200007000-00005.


Congenital fibrosarcoma (CFS) is a pediatric spindle cell tumor of the soft tissues that usually presents before the age of 2 years. Although these tumors display histologic features of malignancy and frequently recur, they have a relatively good prognosis and only rarely metastasize. CFS must therefore be differentiated from more aggressive spindle cell sarcomas that occur during childhood, particularly adult-type fibrosarcoma (ATFS), which can have an identical morphology. CFS must also be distinguished from benign but cellular fibroblastic lesions of the same age group, including infantile fibromatosis (IFB) and myofibromatosis (MFB). Unfortunately, standard pathologic examination often does not differentiate CFS from these other conditions. The authors recently identified a novel chromosomal translocation in CFS, t(12;15)(p13;q25), which gives rise to an ETV6-NTRK3 gene fusion. They subsequently developed reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) assays that can detect ETV6-NTRK3 fusion transcripts in CFS frozen or paraffin-embedded tumor specimens. To confirm the use of this assay in the differential diagnosis of CFS, they have screened a larger series of childhood pediatric spindle cell lesions for ETV6-NTRK3 gene fusions, including 11 cases of CFS, 13 malignant spindle cell tumors (including ATFS), and 38 benign spindle cell tumors (including IFB and MFB). Of the 11 cases diagnosed as CFS, 10 showed the ETV6-NTRK3 gene fusion, whereas none of the 51 other malignant or benign spindle cell tumors demonstrated this fusion gene. They also compared their RT-PCR findings with those of conventional cytogenetics and with immunohistochemical detection of the ETV6-NTRK3 protein using antisera to NTRK3. They conclude that RT-PCR analysis is superior to these techniques for the detection of the ETV6-NTRK3 gene fusion in pediatric spindle cell tumors, and it is a reliable and specific modality for the diagnosis of CFS.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Artificial Gene Fusion*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • DNA, Neoplasm / analysis
  • DNA-Binding Proteins / analysis
  • DNA-Binding Proteins / genetics*
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • ETS Translocation Variant 6 Protein
  • Female
  • Fibroma / diagnosis
  • Fibrosarcoma / chemistry
  • Fibrosarcoma / congenital
  • Fibrosarcoma / diagnosis
  • Fibrosarcoma / genetics*
  • Humans
  • Immunoenzyme Techniques
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Karyotyping
  • Male
  • Myofibromatosis / diagnosis
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-ets
  • Receptor, trkC / analysis
  • Receptor, trkC / genetics*
  • Repressor Proteins*
  • Reverse Transcriptase Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Soft Tissue Neoplasms / chemistry
  • Soft Tissue Neoplasms / congenital
  • Soft Tissue Neoplasms / diagnosis
  • Soft Tissue Neoplasms / genetics*
  • Transcription Factors / analysis
  • Transcription Factors / genetics*
  • Translocation, Genetic


  • DNA, Neoplasm
  • DNA-Binding Proteins
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-ets
  • Repressor Proteins
  • Transcription Factors
  • Receptor, trkC