Background: Distinguishing banal melanocytic aggregates contiguous with malignant melanoma can be a histological challenge but is essential because of the potential for a spurious Breslow measurement.
Objectives: Our aim was to ascertain whether the histological distinction between the two relates to differences in the prevalence of mutations in genes significant in melanomagenesis.
Methods: Mutations in BRAF codon 600, NRAS1 codons 12/13, NRAS2 codons 60/61 and KRAS codons 12/13 were ascertained in 18 cases of primary cutaneous malignant melanoma contiguous with banal melanocytic aggregates using laser capture microdissection.
Results: Overall, 12 of 18 cases (67%) exhibited a mutation in at least one gene. BRAF V600E appeared to be the most commonly mutated gene in both the melanocytic aggregate (seven of 18, 39%) and the melanoma (four of 18, 22%). Both populations demonstrated a similar BRAF genomic profile in 11 of 18 cases (61%) (two BRAF V600E, nine BRAF-WT), a similar KRAS genomic profile in 14 of 18 cases (78%) (one KRAS G12V, 13 KRAS-WT) and a similar NRAS2 genomic profile in 14 of 18 cases (all WT). Of interest, we noted a relatively high prevalence of KRAS mutations (five of 18, 28%). The frequency of KRAS mutations in the melanocytic aggregate (five of 18, 28%) was second to BRAF V600E, while in melanoma, the frequency was also second to BRAF V600E but equalled that of NRAS2 (1 of 18, 6%). No NRAS1 mutations were observed. BRAF and RAS mutations appeared to be mutually exclusive with only three of 18 cases (17%) demonstrating a mutation in both genes (melanocytic aggregate only).
Conclusions: Our findings hint towards the interpretation of banal melanocytic aggregates serving as precursor lesions.