Background The skull base is the location of a wide variety of malignant tumors. Among them is sinonasal undifferentiated carcinoma (SNUC), a highly aggressive sinonasal neoplasm that was recently reclassified into subgroups of high-grade carcinomas with unique genomic events (e.g., SMARC-deficient carcinoma, nuclear protein in testis NUT carcinoma). Other high-grade carcinomas in this location are neuroendocrine carcinomas, sinonasal adenocarcinomas, and teratocarcinosarcomas. Given the rarity of these tumors, little transcriptomic data is available. The aim of this study was to characterize the immune-oncology gene expression profile in SNUC and other high-grade sinonasal carcinomas.
Methods Next-generation sequencing was performed in 30 high-grade sinonasal carcinoma samples using the HTG EdgeSeq Precision Immuno-Oncology Panel. Ingenuity pathway analysis was performed to understand the immunobiology, signaling, and functional perturbations during tumor development.
Results The samples were divided into 3 groups: 21 SNUCs and SMARC-deficient sinonasal carcinomas; 5 high-grade neuroendocrine carcinomas (HGNECs), with small cell and large cell variants; and 4 high-grade sinonasal carcinomas (HGSNCs) of mixed histology (1 NUT carcinoma, 1 teratocarcinosarcoma, and 2 sinonasal adenocarcinomas). PRAME and ASCL1 emerged as upregulated transcripts with strong protein validation for SNUC and HGNEC; other upregulated candidates EZH2 and BRCA1 offer consideration for alternative targeted therapy, and downregulation of major histocompatibility complex molecules and chemokines represent another hurdle in the development of effective immunotherapy.
Conclusions This immune-oncology gene expression analysis of 3 groups of high-grade sinonasal carcinoma with emphasis on SNUC identified a number of differentially expressed transcripts reflecting effects on tumorigenesis. Identification of immune pathways should be further investigated for possible integration of immunotherapy into a multidisciplinary approach to these cancers and personalized treatment.
Ethics Approval MD Anderson Cancer Center Institutional Review Board approval was obtained prior to the start of the study.
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