Cell of origin and mutation pattern define three clinically distinct classes of sebaceous carcinoma

Jeffrey P. North, Justin Golovato, Charles J. Vaske, J. Zachary Sanborn, Andrew Nguyen, Wei Wu, Benjamin Goode, Meredith Stevers, Kevin McMullen, Bethany E. Perez White, Eric A. Collisson, Michele Bloomer, David A. Solomon, Stephen C. Benz, Raymond J. Cho*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

43 Scopus citations


Sebaceous carcinomas (SeC) are cutaneous malignancies that, in rare cases, metastasize and prove fatal. Here we report whole-exome sequencing on 32 SeC, revealing distinct mutational classes that explain both cancer ontogeny and clinical course. A UV-damage signature predominates in 10/32 samples, while nine show microsatellite instability (MSI) profiles. UV-damage SeC exhibited poorly differentiated, infiltrative histopathology compared to MSI signature SeC (p = 0.003), features previously associated with dissemination. Moreover, UV-damage SeC transcriptomes and anatomic distribution closely resemble those of cutaneous squamous cell carcinomas (SCC), implicating sun-exposed keratinocytes as a cell of origin. Like SCC, this UV-damage subclass harbors a high somatic mutation burden with >50 mutations per Mb, predicting immunotherapeutic response. In contrast, ocular SeC acquires far fewer mutations without a dominant signature, but show frequent truncations in the ZNF750 epidermal differentiation regulator. Our data exemplify how different mutational processes convergently drive histopathologically related but clinically distinct cancers.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number1894
JournalNature communications
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 1 2018

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Chemistry(all)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Physics and Astronomy(all)


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