Although the majority of gastrointestinal stromal tumors (GISTs) possess KIT mutations that induce constitutive signal transduction, the clinical outcomes are variable. The ETS translocation variant 1 (ETV1) gene encodes a transcription factor that is reported to cooperate with KIT in GISTs. However, the clinical role of ETV1 is largely unknown. The aim of this study was to examine ETV1 expression and its associations with clinical features in GISTs. We conducted a cohort study involving 64 patients with GISTs who underwent surgical resection between October 2008 and February 2015. ETV1 mRNA expression was compared with that in non-GISTs and was analyzed among risk classifications or clinical outcomes. The GIST samples exhibited significantly higher ETV1 mRNA expression than the non-GIST samples (P < 0.0001). Sixty-four GISTs were stratified into high or low ETV1 mRNA expression groups based on the median relative abundance of ETV1 mRNA. The multivariate analysis showed that low ETV1 expression, as well as tumor size and mitotic index, was an independent factor of recurrence (hazard ratio: 8.1). Patients with high ETV1 expression achieved significantly longer recurrence-free survival (RFS) times than those with low ETV1 expression (P = 0.025). Our study revealed that low ETV1 expression is an independent factor of recurrence after surgery in patients with GISTs, and thus, low ETV1 expression might be a marker of more aggressive malignant GISTs.
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