Background: The absence of BRCA1-associated protein 1 (BAP1) expression in uveal melanoma (UM) is associated with metastatic progression and reduced survival. In this study, we examine nuclear BAP1 (nBAP1) protein expression in primary UMs (PUMs) that show both 'typical' and 'atypical' clinical courses according to their chromosome 3 status, and secondary hepatic metastatic UM (MUM), correlating the results with histological, clinical and survival data.
Methods: Nuclear BAP1 expression was immunohistochemically assessed in tissue microarrays (TMAs) of: (a) 68 PUM patients, who had been treated surgically; and (b) 13 MUM patients, with 5 cases being paired with primary tumour tissue. All cases were fully annotated. The percentage of tumour cell nuclei staining positively for BAP1 was scored by independent observers.
Results: Nuclear BAP1 protein expression was absent in 35 out of 68 (51%) PUM patients, correlating strongly with poor prognostic clinicopathological and genetic parameters and reduced survival (Log rank, P<0.001). Lack of nBAP1 expression importantly identified a subset of 'atypical' PUM patients with disomy of chromosome 3 but with unexpected metastatic relapse. Nuclear BAP1 expression was absent in 10 out of 13 (77%) MUM and expression was concordant in all paired PUM and MUM patients.
Conclusions: Absent nBAP1 protein expression is an independent survival predictor for UM patients, easily examined using immunohistochemistry.