Tumor Mutation Burden and Checkpoint Immunotherapy Markers in NUT Midline Carcinoma

Mai He, Rebecca Chernock, Shengmei Zhou, Mercia Gondim, Louis P. Dehner, John D. Pfeifer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


NUT midline carcinoma (NMC) is a rare, aggressive poorly differentiated carcinoma genetically defined by NUTM1 gene rearrangement. The purpose of this study was to determine the tumor mutational burden (TMB) and the expression of immunohistochemical (IHC) markers in NMCs that are generally used to identify patients that might benefit from checkpoint immunotherapy. Three cases in a 39-year-old male (case 1) and two 13-year-old females (cases 2, 3) were identified from departmental files, with confirmation by NUT IHC and 15q14 rearrangement by fluorescent in situ hybridization. Normal-tumor paired whole exome sequencing (WES) was applied to determine TMB. IHC for DNA mismatch repair proteins, Programmed cell death ligand 1, programmed cell death 1 (PD1), and CD8 was also performed. WES yielded a TMB of 7.61 and 1.52 per Mbp in the primary and pulmonary metastasis in case 1, respectively, and a TMB of 1.04 per Mbp in the primary tumor of case 2. Programmed cell death ligand 1 tumor proportion score was 20%, 1%, and 0% and combined positive score was 25, 5, and 0 in cases 1, 2, and 3, respectively; PD1 stain counts were 25, 52, and 35 per high-power field and the PD1/CD8 ratio was 95%, 95%, and 99% in cases 1, 2, and 3, respectively. The CD8 count per high-power field was 15, 33, and 30 per high-power field in cases 1, 2, and 3, respectively. Mismatch repair IHCs showed retained staining. Although the number of cases is limited, this study is the first to investigate checkpoint immunotherapy markers in NMCs and the results demonstrate no clear biomarker association. However, the results suggest that, if checkpoint therapy is under consideration, a comprehensive workup utilizing WES and IHC is warranted.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)495-500
Number of pages6
JournalApplied Immunohistochemistry and Molecular Morphology
Issue number7
StatePublished - Aug 1 2020


  • NUT midline carcinoma
  • PD-L1
  • PD1
  • checkpoint immunotherapy
  • tumor mutation burden


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