Ewing's sarcoma (ES) and other primitive peripheral neuroectodermal tumors (pPNETs) can present a significant diagnostic problem, as they may morphologically resemble other small round cell tumors (SRCTs) of childhood. However, ES/pPNET is known to carry a characteristic t(11;22)(q24;q12), the detection of which may aid diagnosis. The recent identification of the EWS and FLI-I genes flanking the translocation break point has enabled reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) to be used to detect the putative chimeric transcription factor mRNA produced by the fusion gene. We have assessed the RT-PCR method detection by examining, 40 cases of ES for the presence of EWS/FLI-1 transcripts. Twenty-six (76%) of the 34 cases with intact mRNA yielded fusion transcripts. Four different transcript sizes were detected and two tumors contained two transcripts of different size. No transcripts were detected in a control group of non-ES/pPNET SRCTs. Eight cases with intact mRNA were transcript negative. The MIC2 cell surface antigen, which is reported to be present in over 95 % of ES/pPNETs, was present in 32 of 33 tumors (97%), including all 24 EWS/FLI-1 transcript- positive cases examined. Hence MIC2 is a useful screen for ES, with RT-PCR detection of t(11;22) being the optimal method for confirming the diagnosis.
- Ewing's sarcoma
- polymerase chain reaction
- primitive neuroectodermal tumor