Identification of ALK Rearrangements in Malignant Peritoneal Mesothelioma

JAMA Oncology 2017 September [Epub ahead of print] [Link]

Hung YP, Dong F, Watkins JC, Nardi V, Bueno R, Dal Cin P, Godleski JJ, Crum CP, Chirieac LR


Malignant peritoneal mesothelioma is a rare, aggressive tumor arising from the peritoneal lining, induced by asbestos, therapeutic radiation, or germline mutations. Nevertheless, the molecular features remain largely unknown.
To investigate anaplastic lymphoma kinase (ALK) rearrangements in a large series of peritoneal mesothelioma and characterize the mutational landscape of these tumors.
We studied 88 consecutive patients (39 men, 49 women; median age 61, range 17-84 years) with peritoneal mesotheliomas diagnosed at a single institution between 2005 and 2015. We identified ALK-positive mesotheliomas by immunohistochemistry and confirmed ALK rearrangement by fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH). In ALK-rearranged cases, we characterized the fusion partners using targeted next-generation sequencing of both tumor DNA and RNA. In select cases, we quantified asbestos fibers by combined scanning electron microscopy and x-ray spectroscopy. We also explored ALK rearrangement in a separate series of 205 patients with pleural mesothelioma.
Identification and characterization of novel ALK rearrangements and correlations with clinicopathologic characteristics.
Anaplastic lymphoma kinase was positive by immunohistochemistry in 11 (13%) peritoneal mesotheliomas (focal weak in 8, diffuse strong in 3). In focal weak ALK-positive cases, no ALK rearrangement was detected by FISH or next-generation sequencing. In strong diffuse ALK-positive cases, FISH confirmed ALK rearrangements, and next-generation sequencing identified novel fusion partners ATG16L1, STRN, and TPM1. Patients with ALK-rearranged peritoneal mesotheliomas were women and younger than patients without ALK rearrangement (median age 36 vs 62; Mann-Whitney test, Pā€‰=ā€‰.02), but all other clinicopathologic characteristics (size of tumor nodules, histology, treatment, and survival) were not different. No asbestos fibers were detected in ALK-rearranged cases. Furthermore, loss of chromosomal region 9p or 22q or genetic alterations in BAP1, SETD2, or NF2 typically present in peritoneal mesothelioma were absent in the ALK-rearranged cases. All pleural mesotheliomas were ALK-negative by immunohistochemistry.
We identified unique ALK rearrangements in a subset of patients with peritoneal mesothelioma, each lacking asbestos fibers, therapeutic radiation, and cytogenetic and molecular alterations typically found in these tumors. Identification of clinically actionable ALK rearrangements may represent a novel pathogenetic mechanism of malignant peritoneal mesothelioma with promise for targeted therapy.