Clinicopathological relevance of BRAF mutations in human cancer

Pathology. 2013 Jun;45(4):346-56. doi: 10.1097/PAT.0b013e328360b61d.


BRAF represents one of the most frequently mutated protein kinase genes in human tumours. The mutation is commonly tested in pathology practice. BRAF mutation is seen in melanoma, papillary thyroid carcinoma (including papillary thyroid carcinoma arising from ovarian teratoma), ovarian serous tumours, colorectal carcinoma, gliomas, hepatobiliary carcinomas and hairy cell leukaemia. In these cancers, various genetic aberrations of the BRAF proto-oncogene, such as different point mutations and chromosomal rearrangements, have been reported. The most common mutation, BRAF V600E, can be detected by DNA sequencing and immunohistochemistry on formalin fixed, paraffin embedded tumour tissue. Detection of BRAF V600E mutation has the potential for clinical use as a diagnostic and prognostic marker. In addition, a great deal of research effort has been spent in strategies inhibiting its activity. Indeed, recent clinical trials involving BRAF selective inhibitors exhibited promising response rates in metastatic melanoma patients. Clinical trials are underway for other cancers. However, cutaneous side effects of treatment have been reported and therapeutic response to cancer is short-lived due to the emergence of several resistance mechanisms. In this review, we give an update on the clinical pathological relevance of BRAF mutation in cancer. It is hoped that the review will enhance the direction of future research and assist in more effective use of the knowledge of BRAF mutation in clinical practice.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Biomarkers, Tumor / genetics
  • DNA Mutational Analysis
  • GTP Phosphohydrolases / genetics
  • Gene Rearrangement*
  • Humans
  • Melanoma / diagnosis
  • Melanoma / drug therapy
  • Melanoma / genetics*
  • Melanoma / secondary
  • Membrane Proteins / genetics
  • Molecular Targeted Therapy
  • Point Mutation*
  • Prognosis
  • Proto-Oncogene Mas
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins B-raf / genetics*
  • Skin Neoplasms / diagnosis
  • Skin Neoplasms / drug therapy
  • Skin Neoplasms / genetics*
  • Skin Neoplasms / pathology


  • Biomarkers, Tumor
  • MAS1 protein, human
  • Membrane Proteins
  • Proto-Oncogene Mas
  • BRAF protein, human
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins B-raf
  • GTP Phosphohydrolases
  • NRAS protein, human