UMMS Affiliation

Department of Pathology

Publication Date


Document Type



Cancer Biology | Genetics and Genomics | Medical Pathology | Neoplasms | Pathology


Mutations in the tumor suppressor CYLD, known to be causative of cylindromas, were recently described in a subset of high-risk (hr) HPV-positive head and neck squamous cell carcinomas (HNSCC). Pathologic and genetic characterization of these CYLD-mutant carcinomas, however, remains limited. Here, we investigated whether CYLD mutations characterize a histopathologically and genomically distinct subset of hrHPV-positive HNSCC. Comprehensive genomic profiling via hybrid capture-based DNA sequencing was performed on 703 consecutive head and neck carcinomas with hrHPV sequences, identifying 148 unique cases (21%) harboring CYLD mutations. Clinical data, pathology reports, and histopathology were reviewed. CYLD mutations included homozygous deletions (n = 61/148; 41%), truncations (n = 52; 35%), missense (n = 26; 18%) and splice-site (n = 9; 6%) mutations, and in-frame deletion (n = 1; 1%). Among hrHPV-positive HNSCC, the CYLD-mutant cohort showed substantially lower tumor mutational burden than CYLD-wildtype cases (n = 555) (median 2.6 vs. 4.4 mut/Mb, p < 0.00001) and less frequent alterations in PIK3CA (11% vs. 34%, p < 0.0001), KMT2D (1% vs. 16%, p < 0.0001), and FBXW7 (3% vs. 11%, p = 0.0018). Male predominance (94% vs. 87%), median age (58 vs. 60 years), and detection of HPV16 (95% vs. 89%) were similar. On available histopathology, 70% of CYLD-mutant HNSCC (98/141 cases) contained hyalinized material, consistent with basement membrane inclusions, within crowded aggregates of tumor cells. Only 7% of CYLD-wildtype cases demonstrated this distinctive pattern (p < 0.0001). Histopathologic patterns of CYLD-mutant HNSCC lacking basement membrane inclusions included nonkeratinizing (n = 22, 16%), predominantly nonkeratinizing (nonkeratinizing SCC with focal maturation; n = 10, 7%), and keratinizing (n = 11, 8%) patterns. The latter two groups showed significantly higher frequency of PTEN alterations compared with other CYLD-mutant cases (38% [8/21] vs. 7% [8/120], p = 0.0004). Within our cohort of hrHPV-positive HNSCCs, CYLD mutations were frequent (21%) and demonstrated distinctive clinical, histopathologic, and genomic features that may inform future study of prognosis and treatment.


Oral cancer, Tumour virus infections

Rights and Permissions

Copyright © The Author(s) 2020. Open Access This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article’s Creative Commons license, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article’s Creative Commons license and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this license, visit

DOI of Published Version



Williams EA, Montesion M, Alexander BM, Ramkissoon SH, Elvin JA, Ross JS, Williams KJ, Glomski K, Bledsoe JR, Tse JY, Mochel MC. CYLD mutation characterizes a subset of HPV-positive head and neck squamous cell carcinomas with distinctive genomics and frequent cylindroma-like histologic features. Mod Pathol. 2021 Feb;34(2):358-370. doi: 10.1038/s41379-020-00672-y. Epub 2020 Sep 5. PMID: 32892208; PMCID: PMC7817524. Link to article on publisher's site

Journal/Book/Conference Title

Modern pathology : an official journal of the United States and Canadian Academy of Pathology, Inc

Related Resources

Link to Article in PubMed

PubMed ID


Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.