Nuclear expression of the antiapoptotic protein survivin in malignant melanoma

Cancer. 2006 Mar 1;106(5):1123-9. doi: 10.1002/cncr.21727.


Background: Expression of the antiapoptotic protein survivin has been demonstrated in some melanocytic lesions and is believed to be required for melanoma cell viability. However, its diagnostic value in differentiating melanomas from nevi has not yet been examined.

Methods: Tissue microarray blocks were constructed with paraffin-fixed tissue of 19 nevi, 18 dysplastic nevi, 24 malignant melanomas, and 31 metastatic melanomas. Sections were then reacted with three antisurvivin antibodies (two monoclonal and one polyclonal) assessing labeling intensity (absent or weak, and moderate to strong) as well as the percentage of cells labeled (< 25%, > or = 25%).

Results: Of the antibodies evaluated, the polyclonal one was found to be the most sensitive. Nuclear immunoreactivity for survivin (i.e., > or = 25% of cells exhibiting and/or at least moderately intense staining) was seen in a subset of melanomas but not in nevi or dysplastic nevi (P < 0.05).

Conclusions: Survivin is variably expressed in the cytoplasm in the entire spectrum of melanocytic lesions, with nuclear expression detectable only in melanomas. These data may underscore the importance of nuclear survivin in progression to melanoma and may prove useful in the differential diagnosis of melanoma versus nevus.

MeSH terms

  • Cell Nucleus / chemistry
  • Cell Survival
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Disease Progression
  • Gene Expression Profiling
  • Humans
  • Inhibitor of Apoptosis Proteins
  • Melanoma / diagnosis
  • Melanoma / genetics*
  • Melanoma / pathology
  • Microtubule-Associated Proteins / biosynthesis*
  • Microtubule-Associated Proteins / genetics
  • Neoplasm Proteins / biosynthesis*
  • Neoplasm Proteins / genetics
  • Nevus / diagnosis
  • Oligonucleotide Array Sequence Analysis
  • Skin Neoplasms / diagnosis
  • Skin Neoplasms / genetics*
  • Skin Neoplasms / pathology
  • Survivin


  • BIRC5 protein, human
  • Inhibitor of Apoptosis Proteins
  • Microtubule-Associated Proteins
  • Neoplasm Proteins
  • Survivin