Extraskeletal myxoid chondrosarcoma (EMC) is a rare sarcoma histotype with uncertain differentiation. EMC is hallmarked by the rearrangement of the NR4A3 gene, which in most cases fuses with EWSR1 or TAF15. TAF15-translocated EMC seem to feature a more aggressive course compared to EWSR1-positive EMCs, but whether the type of NR4A3 chimera impinges upon EMC biology is still largely undefined. To gain insights on this issue, a series of EMC samples (7 EWSR1-NR4A3 and 5 TAF15-NR4A3) were transcriptionally profiled. Our study unveiled that the two EMC variants display a distinct transcriptional profile and that the axon guidance pathway is a major discriminant. In particular, class 4-6 semaphorins and axonal guidance cues endowed with pro-tumorigenic activity were more expressed in TAF15-NR4A3 tumors; vice versa, class 3 semaphorins, considered to convey growth inhibitory signals, were more abundant in EWSR1-NR4A3 EMC. Intriguingly, the dichotomy in axon guidance signaling observed in the two tumor variants was recapitulated in in vitro cell models engineered to ectopically express EWSR1-NR4A3 or TAF15-NR4A3. Moreover, TAF15-NR4A3 cells displayed a more pronounced tumorigenic potential, as assessed by anchorage-independent growth. Overall, our results indicate that the type of NR4A3 chimera dictates an axon guidance switch and impacts on tumor cell biology. These findings may provide a framework for interpretation of the different clinical-pathological features of the two EMC variants and lay down the bases for the development of novel patient stratification criteria and therapeutic approaches. © 2019 The Authors. The Journal of Pathology published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd on behalf of Pathological Society of Great Britain and Ireland.
- axon guidance
- extraskeletal myxoid chondrosarcomas
- transcriptional profile