SDHA mutations in adult and pediatric wild-type gastrointestinal stromal tumors

Mod Pathol. 2013 Mar;26(3):456-63. doi: 10.1038/modpathol.2012.186. Epub 2012 Nov 23.


Most gastrointestinal stromal tumors (GISTs) harbor oncogenic mutations in KIT or platelet-derived growth factor receptor-α. However, a small subset of GISTs lacks such mutations and is termed 'wild-type GISTs'. Germline mutation in any of the subunits of succinate dehydrogenase (SDH) predisposes individuals to hereditary paragangliomas and pheochromocytomas. However, germline mutations of the genes encoding SDH subunits A, B, C or D (SDHA, SDHB, SDHC or SDHD; collectively SDHx) are also identified in GISTs. SDHA and SDHB immunohistochemistry are reliable techniques to identify pheochromocytomas and paragangliomas with mutations in SDHA, SDHB, SDHC and SDHD. In this study, we investigated if SDHA immunohistochemistry could also identify SDHA-mutated GISTs. Twenty-four adult wild-type GISTs and nine pediatric/adolescent wild-type GISTs were analyzed with SDHB, and where this was negative, then with SDHA immunohistochemistry. If SDHA immunohistochemistry was negative, sequencing analysis of the entire SDHA coding sequence was performed. All nine pediatric/adolescent GISTs and seven adult wild-type GISTs were negative for SDHB immunohistochemistry. One pediatric GIST and three SDHB-immunonegative adult wild-type GISTs were negative for SDHA immunohistochemistry. In all four SDHA-negative GISTs, a germline SDHA c.91C>T transition was found leading to a nonsense p.Arg31X mutation. Our results demonstrate that SDHA immunohistochemistry on GISTs can identify the presence of an SDHA germline mutation. Identifying GISTs with deficient SDH activity warrants additional genetic testing, evaluation and follow-up for inherited disorders and paragangliomas.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Biomarkers, Tumor* / genetics
  • Biomarkers, Tumor* / immunology
  • Child
  • DNA Mutational Analysis
  • Electron Transport Complex II* / genetics
  • Electron Transport Complex II* / immunology
  • Gastrointestinal Stromal Tumors / enzymology*
  • Gastrointestinal Stromal Tumors / genetics
  • Gastrointestinal Stromal Tumors / immunology
  • Gastrointestinal Stromal Tumors / pathology
  • Genetic Predisposition to Disease
  • Germ-Line Mutation*
  • Humans
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Phenotype
  • Young Adult


  • Biomarkers, Tumor
  • Electron Transport Complex II
  • SDHA protein, human