HISTOLOGY AND HISTOPATHOLOGY

Cellular and Molecular Biology

 

Review

Carcinosarcomas: tumors in transition?

Jason A. Somarelli1,2*, Mary-Keara Boss3, Jonathan I. Epstein4-6, Andrew J. Armstrong7,8 and Mariano A. Garcia-Blanco1,2,9,10

1Center for RNA Biology, 2Department of Molecular Genetics and Microbiology, Duke University Medical Center, Durham, NC, 3Department of Molecular Biomedical Sciences, North Carolina State College of Veterinary Medicine, Raleigh, NC, 4Department of Pathology, Johns Hopkins Hospital, Baltimore, MD, 5Department of Urology, Johns Hopkins Hospital, Baltimore, MD, 6Department of Oncology, Johns Hopkins Hospital, Baltimore, MD, 7Solid Tumor Program and the Duke Prostate Center, 8Duke Cancer Institute and the Department of Medicine, Duke University Medical Center, 9Program in Cancer Genetics and Genomics, Duke Cancer Institute, Duke University Medical Center, Durham, NC and 10Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, The University of Texas Medical Center, Galveston, USA

Offprint requests to: Jason A. Somarelli, Center for RNA Biology, Department of Molecular Genetics and Microbiology, Duke University Medical Center, Durham, NC, 27710, USA. e-mail: jason.somarelli@duke.edu or M.A. García Blanco, Center for RNA Biology, Department of Molecular Genetics and Microbiology, Duke University Medical Center, Durham, NC, 237710, USA. e-mail: m.garciablanco@duke.edu or maragarc@utmb.edu


Summary. Carcinosarcomas are rare, biphasic tumors that are comprised of carcinomatous and sarcomatous elements. While the exact mechanism by which these two phenotypes arise within a single tumor remains unclear, molecular evidence indicates that the epitheliod and spindle-cell components share a clonal origin. We propose that the biphasic nature of these neoplasms may represent an extreme case of epithelial plasticity, in which an epithelial-like cell undergoes a transition to a more mesenchymal phenotype. The present review will discuss both the histological and molecular biological evidence of the involvement of epithelial plasticity in driving the mixed phenotypes observed in carcinosarcomas. Histol Histopathol 30, 673-687 (2015)

Key words: Epithelial-mesenchymal transition, Mesenchymal-epithelial transition, Sarcomatoid carcinoma, EMT, MET

DOI: 10.14670/HH-30.673