Nuclear Beta-Catenin in Mesenchymal Tumors

Mod Pathol. 2005 Jan;18(1):68-74. doi: 10.1038/modpathol.3800272.


Beta-catenin is a crucial part of the Wnt and E-cadherin signalling pathways, which are involved in tumorigenesis. Dysregulation of these pathways allow beta-catenin to accumulate and translocate to the nucleus, where it may activate oncogenes. Such nuclear accumulation can be detected by immunohistochemistry, which may be useful in diagnosis. Although the role of beta-catenin has been established in various types of carcinomas, relatively little is known about its status in mesenchymal tumors. A number of studies suggest that beta-catenin dysregulation is important in desmoid-type fibromatosis, as well as in synovial sarcoma. We wished to determine whether nuclear beta-catenin expression is specific to and sensitive for particular bone and soft-tissue tumors, including sporadic desmoid-type fibromatosis. We studied the nuclear expression of beta-catenin using tissue microarrays in a comprehensive range of bone and soft-tissue tumor types. A total of 549 cases were included in our panel. Nuclear immunohistochemical staining was determined to be either high level (>25% of cells), low level (0-25%) or none. High-level nuclear beta-catenin staining was seen in a very limited subset of tumor types, including desmoid-type fibromatosis (71% of cases), solitary fibrous tumor (40%), endometrial stromal sarcoma (40%) and synovial sarcoma (28%). Although occasional cases of fibrosarcoma, clear cell sarcoma and carcinosarcoma had high-level staining, no high-level nuclear beta-catenin expression was seen in any of 381 fibrohistocytic, muscular, adipocytic, chondroid or osseous tumor cases representing 42 diagnostic categories. All primary immunostain tissue microarray images are made publicly accessible in a searchable database. High-level nuclear beta-catenin staining serves as a useful diagnostic tool, as it is specific to a small subset of mesenchymal tumors.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Cell Nucleus / chemistry*
  • Cytoskeletal Proteins / analysis*
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Humans
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Neoplasms, Connective and Soft Tissue / metabolism
  • Neoplasms, Connective and Soft Tissue / pathology*
  • Tissue Array Analysis
  • Trans-Activators / analysis*
  • beta Catenin


  • CTNNB1 protein, human
  • Cytoskeletal Proteins
  • Trans-Activators
  • beta Catenin