Adenoid cystic carcinoma (ACC), the second most common salivary gland malignancy, is notorious for poor prognosis, which reflects the propensity of ACC to progress to clinically advanced metastatic disease. Due to high long-term mortality and lack of effective systemic treatment, the slow-growing but aggressive ACC poses a particular challenge in head and neck oncology. Despite the advancements in cancer genomics, up until recently relatively few genetic alterations critical to the ACC development have been recognized. Although the specific chromosomal translocations resulting in MYB-NFIB fusions provide insight into the ACC pathogenesis and represent attractive diagnostic and therapeutic targets, their clinical significance is unclear, and a substantial subset of ACCs do not harbor the MYB-NFIB translocation. Strategies based on detection of newly described genetic events (such as MYB activating super-enhancer translocations and alterations affecting another member of MYB transcription factor family-MYBL1) offer new hope for improved risk assessment, therapeutic intervention and tumor surveillance. However, the impact of these approaches is still limited by an incomplete understanding of the ACC biology, and the manner by which these alterations initiate and drive ACC remains to be delineated. This manuscript summarizes the current status of gene fusions and other driver genetic alterations in ACC pathogenesis and discusses new therapeutic strategies stemming from the current research.
Keywords: MYB; MYBL1; adenoid cystic carcinoma; salivary gland tumor; translocation.