Primary adenocarcinoma with signet-ring cell component (Ad-SRCC) of the lung has been well characterized clinicopathologically and histologically, but their genetics has rarely been investigated. A recent report suggesting an association between Ad-SRCC and EML4-ALK fusion prompted us to undertake a histological, immunohistochemical, and molecular analysis of 10 cases of primary Ad-SRCC identified out of 699 lung adenocarcinomas (1.4%). Most of the Ad-SRCCs showed characteristic architectural as well as cytological features including cohesive clustering of signet-ring cells, a solid/acinar growth pattern, and alveolar filling at the tumor periphery. Diffuse co-expression of TTF-1 and p63 was observed in half of the Ad-SRCCs, and this immunoprofile has not been recognized previously. Four Ad-SRCCs (40%) harbored ALK translocations detected by reverse-transcriptase polymerase chain reaction, fluorescence in situ hybridization, and immunohistochemistry. One new EML4-ALK fusion variant was identified. One ALK-rearranged tumor showed focal squamous differentiation. None of the present Ad-SRCCs had EGFR or KRAS mutations, regardless of ALK status. This study successfully utilized tumor histology alone to identify a subset of adenocarcinomas showing a high rate of ALK translocation. The characteristic histology, immunoprofile, frequent ALK translocation, and total lack of EGFR or KRAS mutations, may suggest that Ad-SRCC forms a histologically/molecularly coherent subgroup of adenocarcinoma.
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