A Gradual Transition Toward Anaplasia in Wilms Tumor Through Tolerance to Genetic Damage

Mod Pathol. 2024 Jan;37(1):100382. doi: 10.1016/j.modpat.2023.100382. Epub 2023 Nov 10.


Patients with Wilms tumor (WT) in general have excellent survival, but the prognosis of patients belonging to the subgroup of WT with diffuse anaplasia (DA) is poor due to frequent resistance to chemotherapy. We hypothesized that DA WT cells might undergo changes, such as acquiring a persistent tolerance to DNA damage and copy number aberrations (CNAs), which could eventually lead to their resistance to chemotherapy treatment. Tissue sections from chemotherapy-treated DA WTs (n = 12) were compared with chemotherapy-treated nonanaplastic WTs (n = 15) in a tissue microarray system, enabling analysis of 769 tumor regions. All regions were scored for anaplastic features and immunohistochemistry was used to quantify p53 expression, proliferation index (Ki67), and DNA double-strand breaks (γH2AX). CNAs were assessed by array-based genotyping and TP53 mutations using targeted sequencing. Proliferation index and the frequency of DNA double-strand breaks (γH2AX dot expression) increased with higher anaplasia scores. Almost all (95.6%) areas with full-scale anaplasia had TP53 mutations or loss of heterozygosity, along with an increased amount of CNAs. Interestingly, areas with wild-type TP53 with loss of heterozygosity and only one feature of anaplasia (anaplasia score 1) also had significantly higher proliferation indices, more DNA double-strand breaks, and more CNAs than regions without any anaplastic features (score 0); such areas may be preanaplastic cell populations under selective pressure for TP53 mutations. In conclusion, we suggest that chemoresistance of DA WTs may be partly explained by a high proliferative capability of anaplastic cells, which also have a high burden of double-stranded DNA breaks and CNAs, and that there is a gradual emergence of anaplasia in WT.

Keywords: TP53 mutation/loss of heterozygosity (LOH); Wilms tumor; anaplasia; copy number aberrations; double-stranded DNA breaks.

MeSH terms

  • Anaplasia / genetics
  • DNA
  • Humans
  • Kidney Neoplasms* / genetics
  • Kidney Neoplasms* / pathology
  • Mutation
  • Prognosis
  • Wilms Tumor* / drug therapy
  • Wilms Tumor* / genetics
  • Wilms Tumor* / pathology


  • DNA