Mixed large cell neuroendocrine carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma of the colon: detailed molecular characterisation of two cases indicates a distinct colorectal cancer entity

Colorectal Cancer

J Pathol Clin Res. 2020 Nov 16. doi: 10.1002/cjp2.183. Online ahead of print.


We present two rare cases of mixed large cell neuroendocrine carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma of the colon. A literature search revealed only three published cases with similar histology but none of these reports provided profound molecular and mutational analyses. Our two cases exhibited a distinct, colon-like immunophenotype with strong nuclear CDX2 and β-catenin expression in more than 90% of the tumour cells of both components. We analysed the two carcinomas regarding microsatellite

stability, RAS, BRAF and PD-L1 status. In addition, next-generation panel sequencing with Ion AmpliSeq™ Cancer Hotspot Panel v2 was performed. This approach revealed mutations in FBXW7, CTNNB1 and PIK3CA in the first case and FBXW7 and RB1 mutations in the second case. We looked for similar mutational patterns in three publicly available colorectal adenocarcinoma data sets, as well as in collections of colorectal mixed neuroendocrine-non-neuroendocrine neoplasms (MiNENs) and colorectal neuroendocrine carcinomas. This approach indicated that the FBXW7 point mutation, without being accompanied by classical adenoma-carcinoma sequence mutations, such as APC, KRAS and TP53, likely occurs at a relatively high frequency in mixed neuroendocrine and squamous cell carcinoma and therefore may be characteristic for this rare tumour type. FBXW7 codifies the substrate recognition element of an ubiquitin ligase, and inactivating FBXW7 mutations lead to an exceptional accumulation of its target β-catenin which results in overactivation of the Wnt-signalling pathway. In line with previously described hypotheses of de-differentiation of colon cells by enhanced Wnt-signalling, our data indicate a crucial role for mutant FBXW7 in the unusual morphological switch that determines these rare neoplasms. Therefore, mixed large cell neuroendocrine and a squamous cell carcinoma can be considered as a distinct carcinoma entity in the colon, defined by morphology, immunophenotype and distinct molecular genetic alteration(s).