Special AT-rich sequence–binding protein 2 (SATB2) induces local chromatin loops to facilitate transcription. SATB2 immunostaining is commonly used as a marker for colorectal adenocarcinoma and osteosarcoma.


To extend our knowledge on the diagnostic value of SATB2 analysis in a comprehensive set of human tumors.


Tissue microarrays with 15 012 samples from 120 tumor types and 608 samples of 76 different normal tissues were analyzed.


SATB2 positivity was found in 89 of 120 different tumor types (74%), including 59 of 120 (49%) with at least 1 moderately positive tumor and 38 of 120 tumor types (32%) with at least 1 strongly positive tumor. Expression was frequent in adenomas (44/42–47/44; 94%–96% positive), adenocarcinomas (1747 of 2023; 86%) and various subtypes of neuroendocrine neoplasms (3/7–12/12; 43%–100%) of the colorectum and appendix, Merkel cell carcinoma (25 of 34, 74%), osteosarcomas (15 of 25; 60%), and papillary renal cell carcinoma (RCC) (121 of 235; 52%). Associations to clinicopathologic tumor features were assessed in colorectal and kidney cancers. In colorectal cancer, weak SATB2 expression was linked to high pT (P < .001), nodal metastasis (P < .001), right-sided tumor location (P < .001), microsatellite instability (P < .001), and BRAF mutations (P = .02). In papillary RCC, low SATB2 expression was associated with high pT (P = .02), distant metastasis (P = .04), and reduced tumor-specific survival (P = .04). In clear cell RCC, low SATB2 expression was linked to high pT (P < .001), high Union for International Cancer Control stage (P < .001), high Thoenes grade (P = .02), and reduced recurrence-free survival (P = .02).


Strong SATB2 expression argues for a colorectal origin within adenocarcinomas and neuroendocrine neoplasms. Weak SATB2 expression reflects progression and poor prognosis in colorectal and kidney cancer.

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Author notes

The SATB2 antibody clone MSVA-702R was provided from MS Validated Antibodies GmbH (owned by a family member of Sauter). The other authors have no relevant financial interest in the products or companies described in this article.

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