Research Papers:

Genetic alterations in main candidate genes during melanoma progression

Maria Cristina Sini _, Valentina Doneddu, Panagiotis Paliogiannis, Milena Casula, Maria Colombino, Antonella Manca, Gerardo Botti, Paolo A. Ascierto, Amelia Lissia, Antonio Cossu and Giuseppe Palmieri

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Oncotarget. 2018; 9:8531-8541. https://doi.org/10.18632/oncotarget.23989

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Maria Cristina Sini1,*, Valentina Doneddu2,*, Panagiotis Paliogiannis3,*, Milena Casula1, Maria Colombino1, Antonella Manca1, Gerardo Botti4, Paolo A. Ascierto4, Amelia Lissia2, Antonio Cossu2 and Giuseppe Palmieri1

1Unit of Cancer Genetics, Institute of Biomolecular Chemistry, National Research Council, Sassari, Italy

2Department of Surgical, Microsurgical and Medical Sciences, University of Sassari, Sassari, Italy

3Department of Clinical and Experimental Medicine, University of Sassari, Sassari, Italy

4Istituto Nazionale Tumori, Fondazione Pascale, Napoli, Italy

*These authors contributed equally to this work

Correspondence to:

Valentina Doneddu, email: [email protected]

Keywords: malignant melanoma; fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH) analysis; genetic heterogeneity; mutation analysis; oncogenic driver genes

Received: March 02, 2017     Accepted: November 13, 2017     Published: January 03, 2018


Cutaneous melanoma is a common and aggressive human skin cancers. Much is actually known about the molecular mechanisms underlying melanoma pathogenesis. The aim of the study was to evaluate any possible correlation between mutations in main growth-controlling genes (BRAF, NRAS, CDKN2A) and copy number variations in frequently amplified candidate genes (MITF, EGFR, CCND1, cMET, and cKIT) during melanoma initiation and progression.

A large series of primary and secondary melanoma tissue samples (N = 274) from 232 consecutively-collected patients of Italian origin as well as 32 tumor cell lines derived from primary and metastatic melanomas underwent mutation screening and fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH) analysis. Overall, BRAF, NRAS, and CDKN2A were found mutated in 62.5%, 12.5% and 59% cell lines and in 47%, 16%, 12% tumor tissues, respectively. Quite identical mutation patterns between primary tumors and metastatic lesions were found for BRAF and NRAS genes; mutations of CDKN2A gene appeared to be instead selected during tumor progression. In cell lines, high rates of gene amplifications were observed (varying from 12.5% for cKIT to 50% for MITF); vast majority of cell lines (75%) presented at least one amplified gene. Conversely, prevalence of gene amplification was significantly and progressively decreasing in melanoma metastases (12%) and primary melanomas (4%). Our findings suggest that gene amplifications may be acquired during the late phases of melanoma evolution and mostly act as “passenger” or “non-causative” alterations.

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