Specificity of TLE1 expression in unclassified high-grade sarcomas for the diagnosis of synovial sarcoma

Appl Immunohistochem Mol Morphol. 2013 Oct;21(5):408-13. doi: 10.1097/PAI.0b013e318279f9ee.


Expression of the transducin-like enhancer of split 1 (TLE1) by immunohistochemistry (IHC) has been widely used as a biomarker for the diagnosis of synovial sarcoma. Although TLE1 expression can be identified in more than 90% of synovial sarcomas, positive staining has been reported in up to one third of nonsynovial sarcomas, including peripheral nerve sheath tumors and neoplasms of fibrous and adipose tissues. The low specificity of this test in soft tissue tumors raises concern on its clinical application as a diagnostic biomarker. As synovial sarcoma is frequent among the differential diagnosis of unclassified high-grade sarcomas, and considering that the specificity of TLE1 antibody in this tumor group remains unclear, we evaluated TLE1 expression by IHC in 42 unclassified high-grade sarcomas. SS18 (SYT) gene break-apart analyses by fluorescence in situ hybridization were simultaneously performed as a gold standard biomarker for synovial sarcoma. Five cases that were positive for the SS18 break-apart by fluorescence in situ hybridization were also positive for TLE1 by IHC, whereas the remaining 37 cases negative for SS18 break-apart were all negative for TLE1. The results showed no evidence of nonspecific TLE1 expression in the nonsynovial high-grade sarcomas. We concluded that TLE1 is a highly specific biomarker for synovial sarcoma in the setting of differential diagnosis of unclassified high-grade sarcomas.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Biomarkers, Tumor / metabolism*
  • Co-Repressor Proteins
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Female
  • Gene Expression Regulation
  • Humans
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasms, Adipose Tissue / diagnosis*
  • Neoplasms, Adipose Tissue / pathology
  • Neoplasms, Fibrous Tissue / diagnosis*
  • Neoplasms, Fibrous Tissue / pathology
  • Nerve Sheath Neoplasms / diagnosis*
  • Nerve Sheath Neoplasms / pathology
  • Oncogene Proteins, Fusion / metabolism*
  • Repressor Proteins / genetics
  • Repressor Proteins / metabolism*
  • Sarcoma, Synovial / diagnosis*
  • Sarcoma, Synovial / pathology
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Young Adult


  • Biomarkers, Tumor
  • Co-Repressor Proteins
  • Oncogene Proteins, Fusion
  • Repressor Proteins
  • SYT-SSX fusion protein
  • TLE1 protein, human