Variant WWTR1 gene fusions in epithelioid hemangioendothelioma-A genetic subset associated with cardiac involvement

Genes Chromosomes Cancer. 2020 Jul;59(7):389-395. doi: 10.1002/gcc.22839. Epub 2020 Mar 20.


The genetic hallmark of epithelioid hemangioendothelioma (EHE) is a recurrent WWTR1-CAMTA1 fusion, which is present in most cases bearing a conventional histology. A subset of cases is characterized by a distinct morphology and harbors instead of YAP1-TFE3 fusion. Nevertheless, isolated cases lack these canonical fusions and remain difficult to classify. Triggered by an index case of a left atrial mass in a 76-year-old female with morphologic features typical of EHE, but which showed a WWTR1-MAML2 fusion by targeted RNA sequencing, we searched our files for similar cases displaying alternative WWTR1 fusions. A total of 6 EHE cases were identified with variant WWTR1 fusions, four of them presenting within the heart. There were three females and three males, with a wide age range at diagnosis (21-76 years, mean 62, median 69). The four cardiac cases occurred in older adults (mean age of 72, equal gender distribution); three involved the left atrium and one the right ventricle. One case presented in the vertebral bone and one in pelvic soft tissue. Microscopically, all tumors had morphologic features within the spectrum of classic EHE; two of the cases appeared overtly malignant. All cases were tested by FISH and four were investigated by targeted RNA sequencing. Two tumors harbored WWTR1-MAML2 fusions, one WWTR1-ACTL6A, and in three cases, no WWTR1 partner was identified. Of the four patients with follow-up, two died of disease, one was alive with lung metastases, and the only patient free of disease was s/p resection of a T11 vertebral mass. Our findings report on additional genetic variants involving WWTR1 rearrangements, with WWTR1-MAML2 being a recurrent event, in a small subset of EHE, which appears to have predilection for the heart.

Keywords: WWTR1; epithelioid hemangioendothelioma; fusion; heart.

Publication types

  • Case Reports
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Actins / genetics
  • Aged
  • Chromosomal Proteins, Non-Histone / genetics
  • DNA-Binding Proteins / genetics
  • Female
  • Gene Rearrangement*
  • Heart Neoplasms / genetics*
  • Heart Neoplasms / pathology
  • Hemangioendothelioma, Epithelioid / genetics*
  • Hemangioendothelioma, Epithelioid / pathology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Oncogene Fusion*
  • Trans-Activators / genetics*
  • Transcriptional Coactivator with PDZ-Binding Motif Proteins
  • Young Adult


  • ACTL6A protein, human
  • Actins
  • Chromosomal Proteins, Non-Histone
  • DNA-Binding Proteins
  • MAML2 protein, human
  • Trans-Activators
  • Transcriptional Coactivator with PDZ-Binding Motif Proteins
  • WWTR1 protein, human