Background: About 10-15% of adult gastrointestinal stromal tumors (GIST) and the vast majority of pediatric GIST do not harbour KIT or platelet-derived growth factor receptor alpha (PDGFRA) mutations (J Clin Oncol 22:3813-3825, 2004; Hematol Oncol Clin North Am 23:15-34, 2009). The molecular biology of these GIST, originally defined as KIT/PDGFRA wild-type (WT), is complex due to the existence of different subgroups with distinct molecular hallmarks, including defects in the succinate dehydrogenase (SDH) complex and mutations of neurofibromatosis type 1 (NF1), BRAF, or KRAS genes (RAS-pathway or RAS-P).In this extremely heterogeneous landscape, the clinical profile and molecular abnormalities of the small subgroup of WT GIST suitably referred to as quadruple wild-type GIST (quadrupleWT or KITWT/PDGFRAWT/SDHWT/RAS-PWT) remains undefined. The aim of this study is to investigate the genomic profile of KITWT/PDGFRAWT/SDHWT/RAS-PWT GIST, by using a massively parallel sequencing and microarray approach, and compare it with the genomic profile of other GIST subtypes.
Methods: We performed a whole genome analysis using a massively parallel sequencing approach on a total of 16 GIST cases (2 KITWT/PDGFRAWT/SDHWT and SDHBIHC+/SDHAIHC+, 2 KITWT/PDGFRAWT/SDHAmut and SDHBIHC-/SDHAIHC- and 12 cases of KITmut or PDGFRAmut GIST). To confirm and extend the results, whole-genome gene expression analysis by microarray was performed on 9 out 16 patients analyzed by RNAseq and an additional 20 GIST patients (1 KITWT/PDGFRAWTSDHAmut GIST and 19 KITmut or PDGFRAmut GIST). The most impressive data were validated by quantitave PCR and Western Blot analysis.
Results: We found that both cases of quadrupleWT GIST had a genomic profile profoundly different from both either KIT/PDGFRA mutated or SDHA-mutated GIST. In particular, the quadrupleWT GIST tumors are characterized by the overexpression of molecular markers (CALCRL and COL22A1) and of specific oncogenes including tyrosine and cyclin- dependent kinases (NTRK2 and CDK6) and one member of the ETS-transcription factor family (ERG).
Conclusion: We report for the first time an integrated genomic picture of KITWT/PDGFRAWT/SDHWT/RAS-PWT GIST, using massively parallel sequencing and gene expression analyses, and found that quadrupleWT GIST have an expression signature that is distinct from SDH-mutant GIST as well as GIST harbouring mutations in KIT or PDGFRA. Our findings suggest that quadrupleWT GIST represent another unique group within the family of gastrointestintal stromal tumors.