The genetics of melanoma: recent advances

Annu Rev Genomics Hum Genet. 2013;14:257-79. doi: 10.1146/annurev-genom-091212-153429. Epub 2013 Jul 12.


Cutaneous malignant melanoma results from the interplay of genetic, host, and environmental factors. Genetic factors implicated in melanoma etiology include inherited high-, intermediate-, and low-risk susceptibility genes as well as numerous somatic mutations in melanoma tumors. CDKN2A is the major high-risk melanoma susceptibility gene identified to date. Recent identification of low-risk loci has been accomplished predominantly through genome-wide association studies. Whole-exome and whole-genome studies have identified numerous genes somatically altered in melanoma tumors and highlighted a higher mutation load in melanoma tumors compared with those in other cancers. This higher load is believed to be attributable to the preponderance of cytosine-to-thymine nucleotide substitutions as a result of UV radiation exposure. Technological advances, particularly next-generation sequencing, have increased the opportunities for germline and somatic gene discovery in melanoma and are opening up new avenues for understanding melanoma pathogenesis as well as leading to new opportunities for treatment.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Intramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Genetic Predisposition to Disease*
  • Genome-Wide Association Study
  • Humans
  • Melanoma / genetics*
  • Mutation
  • Skin Neoplasms / genetics*