Coexistence of TERT promoter and BRAF mutations in cutaneous melanoma is associated with more clinicopathological features of aggressiveness

Virchows Arch. 2015 Aug;467(2):177-84. doi: 10.1007/s00428-015-1784-x. Epub 2015 Jun 9.


The recently described telomerase reverse transcriptase (TERT) promoter mutations are recurrent in cutaneous melanoma. Several authors have described an association between these molecular alterations, some histological parameters, and patient survival. BRAF mutations are very frequent in melanoma, but their actual role in the evolution of the disease is still unclear. Here, we investigated the relationship of TERT promoter mutations and BRAF mutations with the most relevant clinicopathological parameters, individually and coexisting, in order to evaluate their role as independent prognostic markers and to determine the effect of their coexistence. A TERT promoter alteration was found in 20 of 53 cases (38 %), significantly associated with histological type, increasing tumor thickness and mitotic rate, more advanced pathologic tumor (pT) stage, and absence of regression. A BRAF mutation was found in 21 of 53 cases (40 %), significantly associated with tumor thickness and presence of metastases in the sentinel lymph node. Coexistence of a TERT promoter and BRAF mutation was detected in 11 of 53 cases (21 %). This was associated with increasing thickness, high mitotic rate, lymph node metastasis, presence of ulceration, and absence of regression. Coexistence of a mutation in the TERT promoter and in the BRAF gene correlated with more prognostically relevant factors than either mutation alone. Our data lead us to hypothesize that TERT promoter and BRAF mutations cooperate in cutaneous melanoma. Further studies in larger cohorts of patients are needed to investigate how this synergistic effect is involved in the evolution of the disease.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Base Sequence
  • DNA Mutational Analysis
  • Disease Progression
  • Female
  • Genotype
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Melanoma / genetics*
  • Melanoma / pathology
  • Middle Aged
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Mutation*
  • Promoter Regions, Genetic*
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins B-raf / genetics*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Reverse Transcriptase Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Skin Neoplasms / genetics*
  • Skin Neoplasms / pathology
  • Telomerase / genetics*
  • Young Adult


  • BRAF protein, human
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins B-raf
  • TERT protein, human
  • Telomerase