Exome sequencing identifies recurrent mutations in NF1 and RASopathy genes in sun-exposed melanomas

Nat Genet. 2015 Sep;47(9):996-1002. doi: 10.1038/ng.3361. Epub 2015 Jul 27.


We report on whole-exome sequencing (WES) of 213 melanomas. Our analysis established NF1, encoding a negative regulator of RAS, as the third most frequently mutated gene in melanoma, after BRAF and NRAS. Inactivating NF1 mutations were present in 46% of melanomas expressing wild-type BRAF and RAS, occurred in older patients and showed a distinct pattern of co-mutation with other RASopathy genes, particularly RASA2. Functional studies showed that NF1 suppression led to increased RAS activation in most, but not all, melanoma cases. In addition, loss of NF1 did not predict sensitivity to MEK or ERK inhibitors. The rebound pathway, as seen by the induction of phosphorylated MEK, occurred in cells both sensitive and resistant to the studied drugs. We conclude that NF1 is a key tumor suppressor lost in melanomas, and that concurrent RASopathy gene mutations may enhance its role in melanomagenesis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Antineoplastic Agents / pharmacology
  • Benzimidazoles / pharmacology
  • DNA Mutational Analysis
  • Drug Resistance, Neoplasm
  • Exome*
  • Genetic Association Studies
  • Genetic Predisposition to Disease
  • Humans
  • Inhibitory Concentration 50
  • Kaplan-Meier Estimate
  • Loss of Heterozygosity
  • Male
  • Melanoma / drug therapy
  • Melanoma / etiology
  • Melanoma / genetics*
  • Mutation, Missense
  • Neurofibromin 1 / genetics*
  • Sequence Analysis, RNA
  • Skin Neoplasms / drug therapy
  • Skin Neoplasms / etiology
  • Skin Neoplasms / genetics*
  • Sunlight / adverse effects
  • Tumor Cells, Cultured
  • ras Proteins / genetics


  • AZD 6244
  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Benzimidazoles
  • Neurofibromin 1
  • ras Proteins