Gastrointestinal stromal tumours (GISTs) negative for KIT (CD117 antigen) immunoreactivity

J Pathol. 2004 Apr;202(4):430-8. doi: 10.1002/path.1546.


Gastrointestinal stromal tumours (GISTs) are currently defined as mesenchymal tumours of the gastrointestinal tract that express KIT receptor tyrosine kinase. However, a small subgroup of tumours that fulfil the clinical and morphological criteria for GISTs lack KIT expression. So far, the biological features of these tumours have rarely been addressed. The present study describes seven gastrointestinal stromal neoplasms that presented clinicopathological features typical of GISTs but showed absence of CD117 expression as detected by immunohistochemistry. The tumours originated from the stomach (n = 5), duodenum (n = 1), and colon (n = 1), showing histologically either predominantly epithelioid (n = 3), mixed spindled and epithelioid (n = 2), or anaplastic/spindle cell (n = 2) type features. CD34 and alpha-smooth muscle actin (alpha-SMA) positivity was present in four and three tumours, respectively. Chromosomal analysis was performed in two cases, both showing losses of chromosomes 14, 22, and 1p, which is the characteristic feature of GISTs. Dual-colour interphase fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH) analysis, utilizing chromosome 1p-, 14-, and 22-specific probes, revealed a similar cytogenetic profile in the remaining five tumour specimens. Mutational analysis of exons 9, 11, 13, and 17 of KIT, and exons 12 and 18 of PDGFRA was performed in all cases by denaturing high-pressure liquid chromatography (DHPLC) pre-screening, followed by direct sequencing. None of the tumours showed KIT mutant isoforms. Three tumours harboured PDGFRA exon 18 activating mutations; two were Asp --> Val(842) missense substitutions and one was a DIM842-844 amino acid deletion. KIT and PKC theta (protein activated in interstitial cells of Cajal and GISTs) expression was determined by western immunoblotting of the total cell lysates from three tumour biopsies. None of these three tumours expressed KIT, while all specimens showed expression of PKC theta protein. These findings indicate that there is a subgroup of KIT-negative GISTs that exhibit the same morphological, cytogenetic, and molecular features as KIT-positive tumours. While intragenic PDGFRA activating mutations are present in some of these tumours, the oncogenic events underlying the pathogenesis of the others remain unknown.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Biomarkers, Tumor / genetics
  • Biomarkers, Tumor / metabolism*
  • Blotting, Western
  • DNA Mutational Analysis
  • DNA, Neoplasm / genetics
  • Female
  • Gastrointestinal Neoplasms / genetics
  • Gastrointestinal Neoplasms / metabolism*
  • Gastrointestinal Neoplasms / pathology
  • Humans
  • In Situ Hybridization, Fluorescence
  • Karyotyping
  • Male
  • Mesenchymoma / genetics
  • Mesenchymoma / metabolism*
  • Mesenchymoma / pathology
  • Middle Aged
  • Mutation
  • Neoplasm Proteins / genetics
  • Neoplasm Proteins / metabolism
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-kit / genetics
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-kit / metabolism*
  • Receptor, Platelet-Derived Growth Factor alpha / genetics


  • Biomarkers, Tumor
  • DNA, Neoplasm
  • Neoplasm Proteins
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-kit
  • Receptor, Platelet-Derived Growth Factor alpha