Genomic profiling of thymoma using a targeted high-throughput approach
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Institute of Molecular Genetics and Genetic Engineering, University of Belgrade, Belgrade, Serbia
University Hospital of Pulmonology, Clinical Centre of Serbia, Belgrade, Serbia
School of Medicine, University of Belgrade, Belgrade, Serbia
Department of Thoracopulmonary Pathology, Service of Pathology, Clinical Centre of Serbia, Serbia
Submission date: 2019-03-28
Final revision date: 2019-11-28
Acceptance date: 2019-12-21
Online publication date: 2020-07-03
Thymomas and thymic carcinoma (TC) are the most common neoplasms localised in the thymus. These diseases are poorly understood, but progress made in next-generation sequencing (NGS) technology has provided novel data on their molecular pathology.

Material and methods:
Genomic DNA was isolated from formalin-fixed paraffin-embedded tumour tissue. We investigated somatic variants in 35 thymoma patients using amplicon-based TruSeq Amplicon Cancer Panel (TSACP) that covers 48 cancer related genes. We also analysed three samples from healthy individuals by TSACP platform and 32 healthy controls using exome sequencing.

The total number of detected variants was 4447, out of which 2906 were in the coding region (median per patient 83, range: 2-300) and 1541 were in the non-coding area (median per patient 44, range: 0-172). We identified four genes, APC, ATM, ERBB4, and SMAD4, having more than 100 protein-changing variants. Additionally, more than 70% of the analysed cases harboured protein-changing variants in SMAD4, APC, ATM, PTEN, KDR, and TP53. Moreover, this study revealed 168 recurrent variants, out of which 15 were shown to be pathogenic. Comparison to controls revealed that the variants we reported in this study were somatic thymoma-specific variants. Additionally, we found that the presence of variants in SMAD4 gene predicted shorter overall survival in thymoma patients.

The most frequently mutated genes in thymoma samples analysed in this study belong to the EGFR, ATM, and TP53 signalling pathways, regulating cell cycle check points, gene expression, and apoptosis. The results of our study complement the knowledge of thymoma molecular pathogenesis.