NRAS and BRAF mutations in primary cutaneous melanoma: A comparison of mutation rates between radial and vertical growth phases in individual tumors
Primary cutaneous melanoma is a cancer arising from melanocytes in the skin. In recent decades the incidence of this malignancy has increased significantly. Mortality rates are high for patients with tumors measuring over a few millimeters in thickness. Response rates to conventional radiation and chemotherapy are very low in patients with metastatic melanoma. New therapies targeting melanoma’s aberrant cell signaling pathways such as the MAP Kinase pathway are being developed. Mutations of NRAS and BRAF genes are quite common in cutaneous melanoma and lead to constitutive activation of the MAP Kinase pathway. This study tests the hypothesis that NRAS and BRAF mutations increase as a tumor progresses from the noninvasive radial growth phase (RGP) to the invasive vertical growth phase (VGP). Laser capture microdissection was used to obtain separate, pure tumor DNA samples from the RGP and VGP of thirty primary cutaneous melanomas. PCR was used to amplify NRAS exon 2 and BRAF exon 15 tumor DNA. The amplified DNA was sequenced and analyzed for mutations. An overall mutation rate of 74% was obtained for the twenty-three melanomas in which there were complete sequence results. With the exception of one melanoma NRAS and BRAF mutations were mutually exclusive. All seven NRAS exon 2 mutations involved codon 61. Three of these melanomas had mutations in both the RGP and VGP. The remaining four tumors were wild type for NRAS exon 2 in the RGP but mutated in the VGP. Of the fifteen BRAF exon 15 mutated melanomas all but one involved codon 600. Twelve of the fifteen BRAF exon 15 mutations were the T1799A type. Nine of the fifteen BRAF mutated tumors had the same mutation in both the RGP and VGP. Five of fifteen melanomas had wild type RGP DNA and BRAF exon 15 mutated VGP DNA. A single melanoma had BRAF exon 15 mutated DNA in the RGP and wild type DNA in the VGP. Overall, these results suggest a trend toward the acquisition of NRAS and BRAF mutations as cutaneous melanomas change from a noninvasive to an invasive, potentially deadly cancer.
Greene, Victoria R, "NRAS and BRAF mutations in primary cutaneous melanoma: A comparison of mutation rates between radial and vertical growth phases in individual tumors" (2007). Texas Medical Center Dissertations (via ProQuest). AAI1444902.