Sclerosing pneumocytoma is a unique benign neoplasm of the lungs. The molecular alterations in sclerosing pneumocytoma are not well understood. In a previous whole-exome sequencing study, recurrent AKT1 point mutation was observed in about half of the cases of sclerosing pneumocytoma. However, in the remaining half, cancer-related mutations have still not been identified. In this study, we first analyzed the raw sequence data from the previous whole-exome sequencing study (PRJNA297066 cohort). Using Genomon-ITDetector, a special software for detection of internal tandem duplications, we identified recurrent internal tandem duplications in the AKT1 gene in 22 of the 44 tumor samples (50%). All the cases positive for AKT1 internal tandem duplications lacked AKT1 point mutations. Next, we performed targeted next-generation sequencing in an independent cohort of sclerosing pneumocytoma from our hospital (VGH-TPE cohort), and again identified recurrent AKT1 internal tandem duplications in 20 of the 40 (50%) tumor samples analyzed. The internal tandem duplications resulted in duplications of 7 to 16 amino acids in a narrow region of the Pleckstrin homology domain of the AKT1 protein. This region contains the interaction interface between the Pleckstrin homology and kinase domains, which is known to play a critical role in the activation of the AKT1 protein. Moreover, we found that AKT1 internal tandem duplications were mutually exclusive of other forms of AKT1 mutations, including point mutations and short indels. Taking all forms of AKT1 mutations together, we detected AKT1 mutations in almost all the sclerosing pneumocytomas in our study (PRJNA297066 cohort: 41 out of 44 cases, 93%; VGH-TPE cohort: 40 out of 40 cases, 100%). Our results suggest that AKT1 mutation is the genetic hallmark of sclerosing pneumocytoma. These results would help in better understanding of the pathogenesis of sclerosing pneumocytoma.
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