Somatic activation of KIT in distinct subtypes of melanoma

John A. Curtin, Klaus Busam, Daniel Pinkel, Boris C. Bastian

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    Purpose: Melanomas on mucosal membranes, acral skin (soles, palms, and nail bed), and skin with chronic sun-induced damage have infrequent mutations in BRAF and NRAS, genes within the mitogen-activated protein (MAP) kinase pathway commonly mutated in melanomas on intermittently sun-exposed skin. This raises the question of whether other aberrations are occurring in the MAP kinase cascade in the melanoma types with infrequent mutations of BRAF and NRAS. Patients and Methods: We analyzed array comparative genomic hybridization data from 102 primary melanomas (38 from mucosa, 28 from acral skin, and 18 from skin with and 18 from skin without chronic sun-induced damage) for DNA copy number aberrations specific to melanoma subtypes where mutations in BRAF and NRAS are infrequent. A narrow amplification on 4q12 was found, and candidate genes within it were analyzed. Results: Oncogenic mutations in KIT were found in three of seven tumors with amplifications. Examination of all 102 primary melanomas found mutations and/or copy number increases of KIT in 39% of mucosal, 36% of acral, and 28% of melanomas on chronically sun-damaged skin, but not in any (0%) melanomas on skin without chronic sun damage. Seventy-nine percent of tumors with mutations and 53% of tumors with multiple copies of KIT demonstrated increased KIT protein levels. Conclusion: KIT is an important oncogene in melanoma. Because the majority of the KIT mutations we found in melanoma also occur in imatinib-responsive cancers of other types, imatinib may offer an immediate therapeutic benefit for a significant proportion of the global melanoma burden. © 2006 by American Society of Clinical Oncology.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)4340-4346
    Number of pages6
    JournalJournal of Clinical Oncology
    Issue number26
    Publication statusPublished - 10 Sept 2006


    • Adult
    • Aged
    • therapeutic use: Antineoplastic Agents
    • Female
    • Gene Expression Regulation, Neoplastic
    • Humans
    • Immunohistochemistry
    • Male
    • drug therapy: Melanoma
    • Microarray Analysis
    • Middle Aged
    • Nucleic Acid Hybridization
    • therapeutic use: Piperazines
    • metabolism: Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-kit
    • therapeutic use: Pyrimidines
    • drug therapy: Skin Neoplasms
    • metabolism: Tumor Markers, Biological


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