Journal Article

Strong FGFR3 staining is a marker for FGFR3 fusions in diffuse gliomas

Kirsi J Granberg, Matti Annala, Birgitta Lehtinen, Juha Kesseli, Joonas Haapasalo, Pekka Ruusuvuori, Olli Yli-Harja, Tapio Visakorpi, Hannu Haapasalo, Matti Nykter and Wei Zhang

in Neuro-Oncology

Volume 19, issue 9, pages 1206-1216
Published in print September 2017 | ISSN: 1522-8517
Published online April 2017 | e-ISSN: 1523-5866 | DOI:
Strong FGFR3 staining is a marker for FGFR3 fusions in diffuse gliomas

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Inhibitors of fibroblast growth factor receptors (FGFRs) have recently arisen as a promising treatment option for patients with FGFR alterations. Gene fusions involving FGFR3 and transforming acidic coiled-coil protein 3 (TACC3) have been detected in diffuse gliomas and other malignancies, and fusion-positive cases have responded well to FGFR inhibition. As high FGFR3 expression has been detected in fusion-positive tumors, we sought to determine the clinical significance of FGFR3 protein expression level as well as its potential for indicating FGFR3 fusions.


We performed FGFR3 immunohistochemistry on tissue microarrays containing 676 grades II–IV astrocytomas and 116 grades II–III oligodendroglial tumor specimens. Fifty-one cases were further analyzed using targeted sequencing.


Moderate to strong FGFR3 staining was detected in gliomas of all grades, was more common in females, and was associated with poor survival in diffuse astrocytomas. Targeted sequencing identified FGFR3-TACC3 fusions and an FGFR3-CAMK2A fusion in 10 of 15 strongly stained cases, whereas no fusions were found in 36 negatively to moderately stained cases. Fusion-positive cases were predominantly female and negative for IDH and EGFR/PDGFRA/MET alterations. These and moderately stained cases show lower MIB-1 proliferation index than negatively to weakly stained cases. Furthermore, stronger FGFR3 expression was commonly observed in malignant tissue regions of lower cellularity in fusion-negative cases. Importantly, subregional negative FGFR3 staining was also observed in a few fusion-positive cases.


Strong FGFR3 protein expression is indicative of FGFR3 fusions and may serve as a clinically applicable predictive marker for treatment regimens based on FGFR inhibitors.

Keywords: biomarker; gene fusion; glioblastoma; targeted sequencing

Journal Article.  5757 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Medical Oncology ; Neurology

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