Large-scale analysis of KIT aberrations in Chinese patients with melanoma

Clin Cancer Res. 2011 Apr 1;17(7):1684-91. doi: 10.1158/1078-0432.CCR-10-2346. Epub 2011 Feb 15.


Purpose: KIT aberrations were described in acral and mucosal melanomas in largely Caucasian populations. Asian populations are more prone to develop acral and mucosal than cutaneous melanomas, and may harbor a high frequency of KIT aberrations.

Experimental design: Melanoma subtypes (n = 502) were analyzed histologically to determine melanoma subtype. Tissue samples were analyzed for mutations in exons 9, 11, 13, 17, and 18 of KIT gene in genomic DNA by PCR amplification and Sanger sequencing. The copy numbers of the KIT gene were analyzed by quantitative PCR, and protein expression levels of KIT (CD117) were determined by immunohistochemistry.

Results: The most common melanoma subtypes were acral (38.4%) and mucosal (33.3%) melanomas in this population. The overall incidence of somatic mutations within the KIT gene was 10.8% (54/502), and all subtypes of melanoma contained KIT mutations. Increases in KIT gene copy numbers were correlated to CD117 overexpression. The genetic mutations of KIT were unrelated to the age, gender, stage, thickness, and ulceration of primary melanomas. Importantly, the overall survival of melanoma patients with KIT mutations (P = 0.001) or with KIT aberrations (mutation plus amplification, P = 0.0002) was significantly shorter than that of patients without such alterations.

Conclusion: In China, the prevalent melanomas are acral and mucosal melanomas. KIT mutations are detected in all melanoma subtypes. Our study suggests that increases in KIT gene copy numbers, but not KIT mutations, may be correlated to CD117 overexpression. For the first time, our study suggests that genetic KIT aberration is an adverse prognostic factor for melanoma.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Asians
  • Biomarkers, Tumor / metabolism
  • Codon, Nonsense
  • Female
  • Gene Dosage
  • Humans
  • Kaplan-Meier Estimate
  • Male
  • Melanoma / etiology
  • Melanoma / genetics*
  • Melanoma / mortality
  • Middle Aged
  • Mucous Membrane / pathology
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Mutation, Missense
  • Protein Structure, Tertiary
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-kit / genetics*
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-kit / metabolism
  • Sequence Deletion
  • Skin Neoplasms / etiology
  • Skin Neoplasms / genetics*
  • Skin Neoplasms / mortality
  • Sunlight / adverse effects
  • Young Adult


  • Biomarkers, Tumor
  • Codon, Nonsense
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-kit