Genetic and clinico-pathologic analysis of metastatic uveal melanoma

Mod Pathol. 2014 Feb;27(2):175-83. doi: 10.1038/modpathol.2013.138. Epub 2013 Jul 26.


Uveal melanoma is the most common malignant tumor of the adult eye. Fifty percent of tumors will eventually metastasize, and there are no effective treatments for them. Recent studies of uveal melanoma have identified activating mutations in GNAQ and GNA11, loss-of-function mutations in the tumor suppressor gene BAP1, and recurrent mutations in codon 625 of SF3B1. Previous studies have reported the existence of a higher frequency of GNA11 than GNAQ mutations, frequent BAP1 loss, and rare SF3B1 mutations in metastatic uveal melanoma. We analyzed a cohort of 30 uveal melanoma metastases for the occurrence of GNAQ, GNA11, and SF3B1 mutations, as well as BAP1 loss, and correlated these parameters with clinical and histopathologic features. Most (92%) tumors were composed of cells with an epithelioid or mixed (<100% spindle cells) morphology. Tumor samples composed exclusively of spindle cells were rare (n=2, 8%). Most tumors showed a moderate to marked degree of nuclear pleomorphism (n=24, 96%), and contained hyperchromatic, vesicular nuclei with variably conspicuous nucleoli. GNA11 mutations were considerably more frequent than GNAQ mutations (GNA11, GNAQ, and wild-type in 18 (60%), 6 (20%), and 6 (20%) cases, respectively). SF3B1 mutation was found in 1 of 26 tumors (4%), whereas loss of BAP1 expression was present in 13 of 16 tumors (81%). Patients with GNA11-mutant tumors had poorer disease-specific survival (60.0 vs 121.4 months, P=0.03) and overall survival (50.6 vs 121.4 months, P=0.03) than those with tumors lacking GNA11 mutations. The survival data, combined with the predominance of GNA11 mutations in metastases, raises the possibility that GNA11-mutant tumors may be associated with a higher risk of metastasis and poorer prognosis than GNAQ-mutant tumors. Further studies of uveal melanoma are required to investigate the functional and prognostic relevance of oncogenic mutations in GNA11 and GNAQ.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Cohort Studies
  • DNA Mutational Analysis
  • Female
  • GTP-Binding Protein alpha Subunits / genetics*
  • GTP-Binding Protein alpha Subunits, Gq-G11
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Neoplastic
  • Humans
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Male
  • Melanoma / genetics*
  • Melanoma / mortality
  • Melanoma / pathology*
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasm Metastasis / genetics
  • Neoplasm Metastasis / pathology
  • Phosphoproteins / genetics*
  • Prognosis
  • RNA Splicing Factors
  • Ribonucleoprotein, U2 Small Nuclear / genetics*
  • Uveal Neoplasms / genetics*
  • Uveal Neoplasms / mortality
  • Uveal Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Young Adult


  • GNA11 protein, human
  • GNAQ protein, human
  • GTP-Binding Protein alpha Subunits
  • Phosphoproteins
  • RNA Splicing Factors
  • Ribonucleoprotein, U2 Small Nuclear
  • SF3B1 protein, human
  • GTP-Binding Protein alpha Subunits, Gq-G11

Supplementary concepts

  • Uveal melanoma