Genome-wide association studies of pigmentation and skin cancer: a review and meta-analysis

Pigment Cell Melanoma Res. 2010 Oct;23(5):587-606. doi: 10.1111/j.1755-148X.2010.00730.x. Epub 2010 Jul 16.


Recent genome-wide association studies (GWAS) identified genetic loci associated with pigmentation, nevi, and skin cancer. We performed a review and meta-analysis of GWAS results, grouping them into four categories: (i) loci associated with pigmentation (hair, eye, and/or skin color), cutaneous UV-response (sun sensitivity and/or freckling), and skin cancer; (ii) loci associated with nevi and melanoma; (iii) loci associated with pigmentation and/or cutaneous UV-response but not skin cancer; and (iv) loci associated distinctly with skin cancer, mostly basal cell carcinoma, but not pigmentation or cutaneous UV-response. These findings suggest at least two pathways for melanoma development (via pigmentation and via nevi), and two pathways for basal cell carcinoma development (via pigmentation and independent of pigmentation). However, further work is necessary to separate the association with skin cancer from the association with pigmentation. As with any GWAS, the identified loci may not include the causal variants and may need confirmation by direct genome sequencing.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Intramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Genetic Predisposition to Disease
  • Genome-Wide Association Study*
  • Genotype
  • Humans
  • Melanoma / genetics*
  • Nevus / genetics
  • Polymorphism, Single Nucleotide
  • Skin Neoplasms / genetics*
  • Skin Pigmentation / genetics*
  • Ultraviolet Rays