Marked genetic differences between BRAF and NRAS mutated primary melanomas as revealed by array comparative genomic hybridization

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Somatic mutations of BRAF and NRAS oncogenes are thought to be among the first steps in melanoma initiation, but these mutations alone are insufficient to cause tumor progression. Our group studied the distinct genomic imbalances of primary melanomas harboring different BRAF or NRAS genotypes. We also aimed to highlight regions of change commonly seen together in different melanoma subgroups. Array comparative genomic hybridization was performed to assess copy number changes in 47 primary melanomas. BRAF and NRAS were screened for mutations by melting curve analysis. Reverse transcription PCR and fluorescence in-situ hybridization were performed to confirm the array comparative genomic hybridization results. Pairwise comparisons revealed distinct genomic profiles between melanomas harboring different mutations. Primary melanomas with the BRAF mutation exhibited more frequent losses on 10q23–q26 and gains on chromosome 7 and 1q23–q25 compared with melanomas with the NRAS mutation. Loss on the 11q23–q25 sequence was found mainly in conjunction with the NRAS mutation. Primary melanomas without the BRAF or the NRAS mutation showed frequent alterations in chromosomes 17 and 4. Correlation analysis revealed chromosomal alterations that coexist more often in these tumor subgroups. To find classifiers for BRAF mutation, random forest analysis was used. Fifteen candidates emerged with 87% prediction accuracy. Signaling interactions between the EGF/MAPK–JAK pathways were observed to be extensively altered in melanomas with the BRAF mutation. We found marked differences in the genetic pattern of the BRAF and NRAS mutated melanoma subgroups that might suggest that these mutations contribute to malignant melanoma in conjunction with distinct cooperating oncogenic events.

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