Use of mutation profiles to refine the classification of endometrial carcinomas

Melissa K. McConechy, Jiarui Ding, Maggie C.U. Cheang, Kimberly C. Wiegand, Janine Senz, Alicia A. Tone, Winnie Yang, Leah M. Prentice, Kane Tse, Thomas Zeng, Helen McDonald, Amy P. Schmidt, David G. Mutch, Jessica N. McAlpine, Martin Hirst, Sohrab P. Shah, Cheng Han Lee, Paul J. Goodfellow, C. Blake Gilks, David G. Huntsman

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

259 Scopus citations


The classification of endometrial carcinomas is based on pathological assessment of tumour cell type; the different cell types (endometrioid, serous, carcinosarcoma, mixed, undifferentiated, and clear cell) are associated with distinct molecular alterations. This current classification system for high-grade subtypes, in particular the distinction between high-grade endometrioid (EEC-3) and serous carcinomas (ESC), is limited in its reproducibility and prognostic abilities. Therefore, a search for specific molecular classifiers to improve endometrial carcinoma subclassification is warranted. We performed target enrichment sequencing on 393 endometrial carcinomas from two large cohorts, sequencing exons from the following nine genes: ARID1A, PPP2R1A, PTEN, PIK3CA, KRAS, CTNNB1, TP53, BRAF, and PPP2R5C. Based on this gene panel, each endometrial carcinoma subtype shows a distinct mutation profile. EEC-3s have significantly different frequencies of PTEN and TP53 mutations when compared to low-grade endometrioid carcinomas. ESCs and EEC-3s are distinct subtypes with significantly different frequencies of mutations in PTEN, ARID1A, PPP2R1A, TP53, and CTNNB1. From the mutation profiles, we were able to identify subtype outliers, ie cases diagnosed morphologically as one subtype but with a mutation profile suggestive of a different subtype. Careful review of these diagnostically challenging cases suggested that the original morphological classification was incorrect in most instances. The molecular profile of carcinosarcomas suggests two distinct mutation profiles for these tumours: endometrioid-type (PTEN, PIK3CA, ARID1A, KRAS mutations) and serous-type (TP53 and PPP2R1A mutations). While this nine-gene panel does not allow for a purely molecularly based classification of endometrial carcinoma, it may prove useful as an adjunct to morphological classification and serve as an aid in the classification of problematic cases. If used in practice, it may lead to improved diagnostic reproducibility and may also serve to stratify patients for targeted therapeutics.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)20-30
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Pathology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Sep 2012


  • carcinosarcoma
  • classification
  • endometrial carcinoma
  • endometrioid
  • mutation profiles
  • serous
  • uterine


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