- The melanoma transformation rate of an individual nevus is very low despite the detection of oncogenic BRAF or NRAS mutations in 100% of nevi. Acquired melanocytic nevi do, however, mimic melanoma, and approximately 30% of all melanomas arise within pre-existing nevi. Using whole-exome sequencing of 30 matched nevi, adjacent normal skin, and saliva we sought to identify the underlying genetic mechanisms for nevus development. All nevi were clinically, dermoscopically, and histopathologically documented.
- The cell cycle-related genes AURKA and FOXM1 are overexpressed in melanoma. We show here that AURKA overexpression is associated with poor prognosis in three independent cohorts of melanoma patients and correlates with the presence of genomic amplification of AURKA locus and BRAFV600E mutation. AURKA overexpression may also be driven by increased promoter activation through elements such as ETS and FOXM1 found within the 5′ proximal promoter region. Activated MAPK/ERK signaling pathway mediates robust AURKA promoter activation, thereby knockdown of BRAFV600E and ERK inhibition results in reduced AURKA transcription and expression.
- Identification of recurrent mutation in the BRAF oncogene in melanoma has led to the development of highly selective kinase inhibitors (Larkin et al., 2014). Although dramatic treatment responses are initially observed, responses are rarely durable. The mutational classification based on BRAF, NRAS, and NF1 mutations that has been established, however, is nonoverlapping with classification derived from gene expression profiling (The Cancer Genome Atlas Network [TCGA], 2015; Jönsson et al., 2010).
- Melanoma progression from a primary lesion to a distant metastasis is a complex process associated with genetic alterations, epigenetic modifications, and phenotypic switches. Elucidation of these phenomena may indicate how to interfere with this fatal disease. The role of microRNAs as key negative regulators of gene expression, controlling all cellular processes including cell migration and invasion, is now being recognized. Here, we used in silico analysis of microRNA expression profiles of primary and metastatic melanomas and functional experiments to show that microRNA-125b (miR-125b) is a determinant candidate of melanoma progression: (i) miR-125b is more strongly expressed in aggressive metastatic than primary melanomas, (ii) there is an inverse correlation between the amount of miR-125b and overall patient survival, (iii) invasion/migration potentials in vitro are inversely correlated with the amount of miR-125b in a series of human melanoma cell lines, and (iv) inhibition of miR-125b reduces migratory and invasive potentials without affecting cell proliferation in vitro.
- In metastatic melanoma, it is vital to identify and validate biomarkers of prognosis. Previous studies have systematically evaluated protein biomarkers or mRNA-based expression signatures. No such analyses have been applied to microRNA (miRNA)-based prognostic signatures. As a first step, we identified two prognostic miRNA signatures from publicly available data sets (Gene Expression Omnibus/The Cancer Genome Atlas) of global miRNA expression profiling information. A 12-miRNA signature predicted longer survival after surgery for resection of American Joint Committee on Cancer stage III disease (>4 years, no sign of relapse) and outperformed American Joint Committee on Cancer standard-of-care prognostic markers in leave-one-out cross-validation analysis (error rates 34% and 38%, respectively).