Stains
GATA3

Author: Emily S. Reisenbichler, M.D. (see Authors page)
Editorial Board Member Review: Maria Tretiakova, M.D., Ph.D.
Deputy Editor Review: Debra Zynger, M.D.

Revised: 27 April 2018, last major update March 2018

Copyright: (c) 2003-2018, PathologyOutlines.com, Inc.

PubMed Search: GATA3[TI] pathology free full text[sb]
Cite this page: Reisenbichler, E.S. GATA3. PathologyOutlines.com website. http://www.pathologyoutlines.com/topic/stainsgata3.html. Accessed May 26th, 2018.
Definition / general
  • One of 6 members of the GATA family of transcription factors
  • Involved in the luminal differentiation of breast epithelium, development of collecting system / urothelium and trophoblastic differentiation
  • Also master regulator of type 2 helper T cells
Essential features
  • Nuclear marker with expression in many epithelial neoplasms (including most breast, urothelial, paraganglioma / pheochromocytoma and skin carcinoma; smaller percentages of lung, liver, pancreatic, gastric, renal, thyroid, endometrial, ovarian and salivary gland carcinoma)
  • Variable expression seen in selected germ cell tumors, mesotheliomas and rare sarcomas
  • Due to the increasing number of tumors found to express GATA3, immunohistochemical staining with additional markers is necessary to determine the etiology of metastatic lesions of unknown primary
Clinical features
Uses by pathologists
  • Differentiate metastatic urothelial and breast carcinomas (GATA3+) from many other metastatic carcinomas (Am J Surg Pathol 2014;38:13)
  • Differentiate urothelial carcinoma (> 80% GATA3+) from prostatic carcinoma (2% GATA3+)
  • Differentiate metastatic lobular carcinoma of the breast (GATA3+) from gastric signet ring cell carcinoma (GATA3-)
  • Differentiate squamous cell carcinoma of the skin (GATA3+) from squamous cell carcinoma of the lung (GATA3-)
  • Differentiate mesothelioma (81% GATA3+) from pulmonary adenocarcinoma (12% GATA3+)
  • Differentiate acute leukemias with T cell differentiation (GATA3+) from acute myeloid leukemia (< 10% GATA3+) and B lymphoblastic leukemias (GATA3-) (Hum Pathol 2017;65:166)
  • Subtyping renal neoplasms: GATA3+ in subset of clear cell papillary renal carcinomas and chromophobe renal cell carcinomas (Appl Immunohistochem Mol Morphol 2016 Aug 23 [Epub ahead of print])
  • Subtyping salivary gland neoplasms: diffuse GATA3 staining in 100% of mammary analogue secretory carcinoma and salivary duct carcinomas; GATA3 positive, but not diffuse staining, in other salivary tumors (Head Neck Pathol 2013;7:311)
Prognostic factors
Microscopic (histologic) images

Images hosted on PathOut server:

Contributed by Emily S. Reisenbichler, M.D.

Breast carcinoma metastatic to liver (H&E and GATA3), normal hepatic parenchyma in upper right corner

Poorly differentiated breast carcinoma
(H&E, GATA3 and CK7)



Contributed by Debra Zynger, M.D.

Pheochromocytoma

Pheochromocytoma
GATA3


Contributed by Maria Tretiakova, M.D., Ph.D.

Normal kidney with GATA3 positive collecting ducts

Benign urothelium of urinary bladder with strong GATA3 expression

Invasive bladder cancer with GATA3 expression



Images hosted on other servers:

Breast tissue (various)

Positive staining - normal
Positive staining - tumors
Negative staining - normal
  • Breast myoepithelial cells
  • Skin - epidermal granular cell layer, matrix cells of hair bulb and eccrine glands (Am J Dermatopathol 2015;37:885)
  • Thyroid follicular cells
Negative staining - tumors
Board review question #1
A biopsied liver lesion is radiographically suspected to be a metastasis of unknown primary. Which stain combination would be most consistent with metastasis from a breast primary?

  1. GATA3 negative, CK7 positive, TTF1 positive, CK20 negative
  2. GATA3 negative, S100 positive, SOX10 positive, AE1 / AE3 negative
  3. GATA3 positive, ER positive, CK7 positive, p63 negative
  4. GATA3 positive, p63 positive, ER negative, CK5 / 6 positive
Board review answer #1
C. GATA3 positive, ER positive, CK7 positive, p63 negative. While none of these markers alone is specific for breast carcinoma, most breast carcinomas are positive, particularly estrogen receptor (ER) positive tumors. The combined immunohistochemical findings in the other answer choices are most indicative of melanoma and carcinomas of urothelial and lung primary.