PURPOSE. To reconcile the heterogeneity of thymic epithelial tumors (TETs) and gain deeper understanding of the molecular determinants of TETs, we set out to establish a clinically relevant molecular classification system for these tumors. <p>EXPERIMENTAL DESIGN. Molecular subgrouping of TETs was performed in 120 patients from The Cancer Genome Atlas using a multidimensional approach incorporating analyses of DNA mutations, mRNA expression, and somatic copy number alterations (SCNA), and validated in two independent cohorts.</p> <p>RESULTS. Four distinct molecular subtypes of TETs were identified. The most commonly identified gene mutation was a missense mutation in General Transcription Factor II-I (GTF2I group), which was present in 38% of patients. The next group was identified by unsupervised mRNA clustering of GTF2I wild type tumors and represented TETs enriched in expression of genes associated with T cell signaling (TS group; 33%). The remaining 2 groups were distinguished by their degree of chromosomal stability (CS group; 8%) or instability (CIN group; 21%) based upon SCNA analyses. Disease-free survival and overall survival were favorable in the GTF2I group and unfavorable in the CIN group. These molecular subgroups were associated with TET histology and clinical features including disease-free survival. Finally, we demonstrate high expression of PD1 mRNA and correlation of PD1 and CD8A in the TS subgroup.</p> <p>CONCLUSIONS. Molecular subtyping of TETs is associated with disease-free and overall survival. Classification of TETs by a molecular framework could aid in the refinement of staging, and in discovery and development of rational treatment options for patients with TETs.
- Received January 9, 2017.
- Revision received April 6, 2017.
- Accepted April 6, 2017.
- Copyright ©2017, American Association for Cancer Research.