Chromosomes, Genes, Breakpoints, and Fusion Validator Scores for Oncogenic Fusions. In the event of multiple splicing confirmations, the fusion with highest validator score is displayed.
ARTICLE ABSTRACTPediatric papillary thyroid carcinoma (PPTC) is clinically distinct from adult-onset disease. Although there are higher rates of metastasis and recurrence in PPTC, prognosis remains highly favorable. Molecular characterization of PPTC has been lacking. Historically, only 40% to 50% of childhood papillary thyroid carcinoma (PTC) were known to be driven by genomic variants common to adult PTC; oncogenic drivers in the remainder were unknown. This contrasts with approximately 90% of adult PTC driven by a discrete number of variants. In this study, 52 PPTCs underwent candidate gene testing, followed in a subset by whole-exome and transcriptome sequencing. Within these samples, candidate gene testing identified variants in 31 (60%) tumors, while exome and transcriptome sequencing identified oncogenic variants in 19 of 21 (90%) remaining tumors. The latter were enriched for oncogenic fusions, with 11 nonrecurrent fusion transcripts, including two previously undescribed fusions, STRN-RET and TG-PBF. Most fusions were associated with 3′ receptor tyrosine kinase (RTK) moieties: RET, MET, ALK, and NTRK3. For advanced (distally metastatic) tumors, a driver variant was described in 91%. Gene expression analysis defined three clusters that demonstrated distinct expression of genes involved in thyroid differentiation and MAPK signaling. Among RET-CCDC6–driven tumors, gene expression in pediatric tumors was distinguishable from that in adults. Collectively, these results show that the genomic landscape of pediatric PTC is different from adult PTC. Moreover, they identify genomic drivers in 98% of PPTCs, predominantly oncogenic fusion transcripts involving RTKs, with a pronounced impact on gene expression. Notably, most advanced tumors were driven by a variant for which targeted systemic therapy exists.
This study highlights important distinctions between the genomes and transcriptomes of pediatric and adult papillary thyroid carcinoma, with implications for understanding the biology, diagnosis, and treatment of advanced disease in children.