Introduction: DNA mutational profiling showed that atypical carcinoids (ACs) share alterations with large cell neuroendocrine carcinomas (LCNECs). Transcriptomic studies suggested that LCNECs are composed of two subtypes, one of which shares molecular anomalies with SCLC. The missing piece of information is the transcriptomic relationship between ACs and LCNECs, as a direct comparison is lacking in the literature. Methods: Transcriptomic and genomic alterations were investigated by next-generation sequencing in a discovery set of 14 ACs and 14 LCNECs and validated on 21 ACs and 18 LCNECs by using custom gene panels and immunohistochemistry for Men1 and Rb1. Results: A 58-gene signature distinguished three transcriptional clusters. Cluster 1 comprised 20 LCNECs and one AC harboring concurrent inactivation of tumor protein p53 gene (TP53) and retinoblastoma 1 gene (RB1) in the absence of menin 1 gene (MEN1) mutations; all cases lacked Rb1 nuclear immunostaining. Cluster 3 included 20 ACs and four LCNECs lacking RB1 alterations and having frequent MEN1 (37.5%) and TP53 mutations (16.7%); menin nuclear immunostaining was lost in 75% of cases. Cluster 2 included 14 ACs and eight LCNECs showing intermediate features: TP53, 40.9%; MEN1, 22.7%; and RB1, 18.2%. Patients in cluster C1 had a shorter cancer-specific survival than did patients in C2 or C3. Conclusions: ACs and LCNECs comprise three different and clinically relevant molecular diseases, one AC-enriched group in which MEN1 inactivation plays a major role, one LCNEC-enriched group whose hallmark is RB1 inactivation, and one mixed group with intermediate molecular features. These data support a progression of malignancy that may be traced by using combined molecular and immunohistochemical analysis.
- Atypical carcinoid
- Gene expression profiling
- Large cell neuroendocrine carcinoma
- Lung neuroendocrine tumors
- Next-generation sequencing