Clinical impact of molecular and cytogenetic findings in synovial sarcoma

I Panagopoulos, F Mertens, Margareth Isaksson, J Limon, Pelle Gustafson, B Skytting, Måns Åkerman, R Sciot, P Dal Cin, I Samson, M Iliszko, J Ryoe, M Dêbiec-Rychter, A Szadowska, O Brosjö, O Larsson, A Rydholm, N Mandahl

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Synovial sarcoma is an aggressive soft-tissue tumor that accounts for up to 10% of soft-tissue sarcomas. Cytogenetically, synovial sarcoma is characterized by the t(X;18)(p11;q11), found in more than 95% of the tumors. This translocation results in rearrangements of the SYT gene in 18q11 and one of the SSX1, SSX2, or SSX4 genes in Xp11, creating a SYT/SSX1, SYT/SSX2, or SYT/SSX4 chimeric gene. It has been shown that patients with SYT/SSX1 fusion genes have a shorter metastasis-free survival than do patients with SYT/SSX2. Previous studies have also suggested that clonal evolution may be associated with disease progression. In the present study, RT-PCR analysis showed that all 64 examined synovial sarcomas from 54 patients had SYT-SSX chimeric genes. SYT/SSX1 was found in 40 tumors from 33 patients, SYT/SSX2 in 23 tumors from 20 patients, and SYT/SSX4 in one case. Two patients had variant SYT/SSX2 transcripts, with 57 bp and 141 bp inserts, respectively, between the known SYT and SSX2 sequences. Patients with tumors with SYT/SSX1 fusions had a higher risk of developing metastases compared to those with SYT/SSX2 fusions (P = 0.01). The reciprocal transcripts SSX1/SYT and SSX2/SYT were detected using nested PCR in 11 of the 40 samples with SYT/SSX1 and 5 of the 23 samples with SYT/SSX2, respectively. Among 20 blood samples, SYT/SSX1 and SYT/SSX2 were detected in one sample each. The t(X;18), or variants thereof, was found cytogenetically in all patients but three. Among 32 primary tumors, the t(X;18) or a variant translocation was the sole anomaly in 10. In contrast, of the seven metastatic lesions that were investigated prior to radiotherapy, only one had a t(X;18) as the sole anomaly; all other tumors displayed complex karyotypes. Cytogenetic complexity in primary tumors was, however, not associated with the development of metastases. Tumors with SYT/SSX2 less often (4/12 vs. 7/15) showed complex karyotypes than did tumors with SYT/SSX1, but the difference was not significant. Combining cytogenetic complexity and transcript data, we found that the subgroup of patients with tumors showing simple karyotypes and SYT/SSX2 fusion had the best clinical outcome (2/8 patients developed metastases), and those with tumors showing complex karyotypes together with SYT/SSX1 fusion the worst (6/7 patients developed metastases). This corresponded to 5-year metastasis-free survival rates of 0.58 and 0.0, respectively (P = 0.02).

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)362-72
Number of pages11
JournalGenes, Chromosomes and Cancer
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2001 Aug

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Medical Genetics
  • Cancer and Oncology


  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Base Sequence
  • Child
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Karyotyping
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Neoplasm Proteins
  • Oncogene Proteins, Fusion
  • Proteins
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins
  • Repressor Proteins
  • Sarcoma, Synovial
  • Sequence Analysis, DNA
  • Soft Tissue Neoplasms
  • Journal Article
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't


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