Mosaicism of activating FGFR3 mutations in human skin causes epidermal nevi

J Clin Invest. 2006 Aug;116(8):2201-2207. doi: 10.1172/JCI28163.


Epidermal nevi are common congenital skin lesions with an incidence of 1 in 1,000 people; however, their genetic basis remains elusive. Germline mutations of the FGF receptor 3 (FGFR3) cause autosomal dominant skeletal disorders such as achondroplasia and thanatophoric dysplasia, which can be associated with acanthosis nigricans of the skin. Acanthosis nigricans and common epidermal nevi of the nonorganoid, nonepidermolytic type share some clinical and histological features. We used a SNaPshot multiplex assay to screen 39 epidermal nevi of this type of 33 patients for 11 activating FGFR3 point mutations. In addition, exon 19 of FGFR3 was directly sequenced. We identified activating FGFR3 mutations, almost exclusively at codon 248 (R248C), in 11 of 33 (33%) patients with nonorganoid, nonepidermolytic epidermal nevi. In 4 of these cases, samples from adjacent histologically normal skin could be analyzed, and FGFR3 mutations were found to be absent. Our results suggest that a large proportion of epidermal nevi are caused by a mosaicism of activating FGFR3 mutations in the human epidermis, secondary to a postzygotic mutation in early embryonic development. The R248C mutation appears to be a hot spot for FGFR3 mutations in epidermal nevi.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Amino Acid Substitution
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Codon / genetics
  • Epidermis / pathology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Mosaicism*
  • Mutation*
  • Nevus / classification
  • Nevus / genetics*
  • Nevus / pathology
  • Nevus, Pigmented / genetics
  • Nevus, Pigmented / pathology
  • Receptor, Fibroblast Growth Factor, Type 3 / genetics*
  • Skin Neoplasms / genetics*


  • Codon
  • FGFR3 protein, human
  • Receptor, Fibroblast Growth Factor, Type 3