Thoracic nuclear protein in testis (NUT) carcinoma: expanded pathological spectrum with expression of thyroid transcription factor-1 and neuroendocrine markers

Yin P. Hung, Athena L. Chen, Martin S. Taylor, Tiffany G. Huynh, Marina Kem, Martin K. Selig, G. Petur Nielsen, Jochen K. Lennerz, Christopher G. Azzoli, Ibiayi Dagogo-Jack, Richard L. Kradin, Mari Mino-Kenudson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


Aims: Nuclear protein in testis (NUT) carcinoma, an aggressive tumour driven by NUTM1 rearrangements, often involves the lung/mediastinum and shows squamous differentiation. We encountered an index patient with a thoracic NUT carcinoma diagnosed by molecular testing, showing extensive pleural involvement and diffuse thyroid transcription factor-1 (TTF-1) expression, initially suggestive of lung adenocarcinoma with pseudomesotheliomatous growth. We thus gathered an institutional series of thoracic NUT carcinomas to examine their pathological spectrum. Methods and results: We searched for thoracic NUT carcinomas in our surgical pathology files and in 2289 consecutive patients with primary thoracic tumours investigated with RNA-based assays. We performed NUT immunohistochemistry on 425 additional lung adenocarcinomas. Collectively, we identified six patients (five men and one woman; age 31–80 years; four never-smokers) with thoracic NUT carcinomas confirmed by molecular testing (including five with positive NUT immunohistochemistry). They died at 2.3–12.9 months (median, 2.8 months) after presentation. Two patients were diagnosed by histopathological assessment, and the remaining four (including the index patient) were diagnosed by molecular testing. Analysis of the index case revealed expression of multiple neuroendocrine markers and TTF-1; no ultrastructural evidence of neuroendocrine differentiation was noted. No additional NUT-positive cases were found by immunohistochemical screening. Conclusions: Although NUT carcinoma classically shows squamous differentiation, it can rarely express TTF-1 (even diffusely) and/or multiple neuroendocrine markers. This immunophenotypic spectrum may lead to diagnostic confusion with pulmonary adenocarcinoma, neuroendocrine tumour, and others. To circumvent this pitfall, NUT immunohistochemistry and/or NUTM1 molecular testing should be considered in primitive-appearing tumours, regardless of their immunophenotypic features.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)896-904
Number of pages9
Issue number6
StatePublished - May 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • BRD4–NUTM1
  • INSM1
  • NUT carcinoma
  • TTF-1
  • neuroendocrine

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • Histology


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