Caveolin-3 is a sensitive and specific marker for rhabdomyosarcoma

Samson W. Fine, Michael P. Lisanti, Pedram Argani, Maomi Li

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Caveolin-3 (Cav-3) is a principal structural protein of caveolae membrane domains. Animal studies have revealed that Cav-3 is expressed in skeletal and cardiac myocytes but absent in other types of cells. Recent studies have shown that abnormalities in the Cav-3 gene are associated with some forms of muscular dystrophy, while skeletal muscle abnormalities have been observed in Cav-3 transgenic and knockout mice. In this study the authors evaluated the distribution of Cav-3 in normal human tissues and compared the expression of Cav-3 with that of myogenin and myoD1 in rhabdomyosarcoma (RMS), malignant mixed mullerian tumor (MMMT), and an array of neoplasms that mimic RMS to assess the utility of Cav-3 as a diagnostic marker for tumors with skeletal muscle differentiation. In nonneoplastic human tissues, crisp membrane staining for Cav-3 was present in cardiac and skeletal myocytes and occasionally in arterial smooth muscle cells and prostatic stromal cells, while other cell types were negative for Cav-3. Eighty-eight percent (21/24) of RMS studied were positive for Cav-3. Positive staining was generally observed in the more maturely differentiated tumor cells but not the primitive tumor cells. Eight of nine cases of MMMT stained strongly with Cav-3 in their rhabdomyosarcomatous component but not in other components. Fifty-four other neoplasms (13 leiomyosarcomas, 8 neuroblastomas, 5 lymphomas, 6 Wilms tumors without skeletal muscle differentiation, 5 Ewing sarcomas, 4 malignant fibrous histiocytomas, 4 angiosarcomas, 6 malignant melanomas, and 3 synovial sarcomas) were negative for Cav-3 expression. Nearly all (96% [23/24]) cases of RMS were positive for myogenin, while 88% (21/24) were positive for myoD1. Primitive tumor cells showed significantly increased expression of myoD1 and myogenin; conversely, more differentiated tumor cells were negative or weakly stained. The rhabdomyosarcomatous component of MMMT stained focally with myogenin and myoD1, in contrast to the strong Cav-3 labeling in these cells. These results demonstrate that Cav-3 is specifically expressed in human cardiac and skeletal myocytes. Furthermore, its high specificity and relatively high sensitivity (88%) for tumors with skeletal muscle differentiation suggest that Cav-3 is a valuable marker for these tumors and may be used to assess the degree of differentiation of RMS and to identify residual tumor cells in post-chemotherapy specimens.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)231-236
Number of pages6
JournalApplied Immunohistochemistry and Molecular Morphology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 1 2005


  • Caveolin-3
  • Myogenin
  • Rhabdomyosarcoma
  • Skeletal muscle
  • myoD1

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • Histology
  • Medical Laboratory Technology

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