Emerging entities in NUTM1-rearranged neoplasms

Genes Chromosomes Cancer. 2020 Jun;59(6):375-385. doi: 10.1002/gcc.22838. Epub 2020 Feb 25.


Structural alterations of NUTM1 were originally thought to be restricted to poorly differentiated carcinomas with variable squamous differentiation originating in the midline organs of children and adolescents. Termed NUT carcinomas (NCs), they were defined by a t(15;19) chromosomal rearrangement that was found to result in a BRD4-NUTM1 gene fusion. However, the use of DNA and RNA-based next-generation sequencing has recently revealed a multitude of new NUTM1 fusion partners in a diverse array of neoplasms including sarcoma-like tumors, poromas, and acute lymphoblastic leukemias (ALLs) that we propose to call NUTM1-rearranged neoplasms (NRNs). Intriguingly, the nosology of NRNs often correlates with the functional classification of the fusion partner, suggesting different oncogenic mechanisms within each NRN division. Indeed, whereas NCs are characterized by their aggressiveness and intransigence to standard therapeutic measures, the more positive clinical outcomes seen in some sarcoma and ALL NRNs may reflect these mechanistic differences. Here we provide a broad overview of the molecular, nosological, and clinical features in these newly discovered neoplastic entities. We describe how aberrant expression of NUTM1 due to fusion with an N-terminal DNA/chromatin-binding protein can generate a potentially powerful chromatin modifier that can give rise to oncogenic transformation in numerous cellular contexts. We also conclude that classification, clinical behavior, and therapeutic options may be best defined by the NUTM1 fusion partner rather than by tumor morphology or immunohistochemical profile.

Keywords: ALL; NUT carcinoma; NUTM1; gene fusion; sarcoma.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Carcinoma / genetics*
  • Carcinoma / pathology
  • Gene Fusion
  • Gene Rearrangement*
  • Humans
  • Neoplasm Proteins / genetics*
  • Neoplasm Proteins / metabolism
  • Nuclear Proteins / genetics*
  • Nuclear Proteins / metabolism
  • Precursor Cell Lymphoblastic Leukemia-Lymphoma / genetics*
  • Precursor Cell Lymphoblastic Leukemia-Lymphoma / pathology
  • Sarcoma / genetics*
  • Sarcoma / pathology


  • NUTM1 protein, human
  • Neoplasm Proteins
  • Nuclear Proteins