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A MXI1-NUTM1 fusion protein with MYC-like activity suggests a novel oncogenic mechanism in a subset of NUTM1-rearranged tumors


Most NUTM1-rearranged neoplasms (NRNs) have fusions between NUTM1 and BRD (bromodomain-containing) family members and are termed NUT carcinomas (NCs) because they show some squamous differentiation. However, some NRNs are associated with fusions between NUTM1 and members of the MAD (MAX dimerization) gene family of MYC antagonists. Here we describe a small round cell malignancy from the gastro-esophageal junction with a previously unreported fusion between NUTM1 and the MAD family member MXI1. In contrast to NCs, the MXI1-NUTM1 tumor did not show squamous differentiation and did not express MYC, TP63 or SOX2, genes known to be targets of BRD-NUTM1 proteins and critical for NC oncogenesis. Transcriptome analysis showed paradoxical enrichment of MYC target genes in the MXI1-NUTM1 tumor despite the lack of MYC expression. When expressed in vitro MXI1-NUTM1 partially phenocopied MYC, enhancing cell proliferation and cooperating with oncogenic HRAS to produce anchorage-independent cell growth. These data provide evidence that MAD family members, which are normally repressors of MYC activity, can be converted into MYC-like mimics by fusion to NUTM1. The pathological features and novel oncogenic mechanism of the MXI1-NUTM1 tumor show that identification of NUTM1 fusion partners can be important for accurate diagnostic classification of some NRN subtypes, and potentially may guide therapeutic options.

Type Journal
ISBN 1530-0307 (Electronic) 0023-6837 (Linking)
Authors McEvoy, C. R.; Holliday, H.; Thio, N.; Mitchell, C.; Choong, D. Y.; Yellapu, B.; Leong, H. S.; Xu, H.; Lade, S.; Browning, J.; Takano, E. A.; Byrne, D. J.; Gill, A. J.; Duong, C. P.; Li, J.; Fellowes, A. P.; Fox, S. B.; Swarbrick, A.; Prall, O. W. J.
Responsible Garvan Author Dr Holly Holliday
Published Date 2021-01-31
Published Volume 101
Published Issue 1
Published Pages 26-37
Status Published in-print
DOI 10.1038/s41374-020-00484-3
URL link to publisher's version