ERG and FLI1 protein expression in epithelioid sarcoma

David L. Stockman, Jason L. Hornick, Michael T. Deavers, Dina C. Lev, Alexander J. Lazar, Wei Lien Wang

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83 Scopus citations


Epithelioid sarcoma is a rare, aggressive keratin-positive sarcoma that co-expresses CD34 in 50% of cases and may mimic an angiosarcoma. Recently, we have observed one case of epithelioid sarcoma that labeled for ERG, an ETS family regulatory transcription factor, which is considered to be a reliable marker for vascular differentiation. We investigated the prevalence of nuclear expression of ERG and FLI1, a homologous transcription factor, in these tumors. A formalin-fixed paraffin-embedded tissue microarray of 37 epithelioid sarcomas was examined. Immunohistochemistry was performed using anti-ERG monoclonal antibody to the N-terminus, anti-ERG monoclonal antibody to the C-terminus and anti-FLI1 monoclonal antibody. Comparison was made with CD34, CD31, and D2-40 labeling. The extent of immunoreactivity was graded according to the percentage of positive tumor cell nuclei (0: no staining; 1+: <5%; 2+: 5-25%; 3+: 26-50%; 4+: 51-75%; and 5+: 76-100%), and the intensity of staining was graded as weak, moderate, or strong. Nuclear staining for the N-terminus of ERG was seen in 19 out of 28 cases: 10 with diffuse(4 to 5+) strong/moderate labeling; 1 with 2+ moderate labeling and 8 with weak labeling (1 to 4+, 2 each). Focal staining for the C-terminus of ERG was seen in only 1 out of 29 cases (2+ moderate). FLI1 labeling was seen in nearly all (28 out of 30) cases: 16 with diffuse (5+) predominantly moderate labeling, and 8 cases with diffuse(5+) weak labeling. The remainder had variable moderate (1 to 3+) or weak (1 to 4+) FLI1 staining. CD34 was positive in 22 out of 30 cases and D2-40 was found to be positive in 22 out of 31 cases. All cases were negative for CD31 (0 out of 30). Epithelioid sarcoma can label with antibodies to the N-terminus of ERG, FLI1, and D2-40, which may cause diagnostic confusion for a vascular tumor. A panel of other antibodies including SMARCB1 and CD31 should be used in evaluating these tumors. ERG antibody selection is also critical, as those directed against the C-terminus are less likely to label epithelioid sarcoma.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)496-501
Number of pages6
JournalModern Pathology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2014


  • ERG
  • FLI1
  • epithelioid sarcoma

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine


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