Integrated genomic analyses reveal frequent TERT aberrations in acral melanoma

Genome Res. 2017 Apr;27(4):524-532. doi: 10.1101/gr.213348.116.


Genomic analyses of cutaneous melanoma (CM) have yielded biological and therapeutic insights, but understanding of non-ultraviolet (UV)-derived CMs remains limited. Deeper analysis of acral lentiginous melanoma (ALM), a rare sun-shielded melanoma subtype associated with worse survival than CM, is needed to delineate non-UV oncogenic mechanisms. We thus performed comprehensive genomic and transcriptomic analysis of 34 ALM patients. Unlike CM, somatic alterations were dominated by structural variation and absence of UV-derived mutation signatures. Only 38% of patients demonstrated driver BRAF/NRAS/NF1 mutations. In contrast with CM, we observed PAK1 copy gains in 15% of patients, and somatic TERT translocations, copy gains, and missense and promoter mutations, or germline events, in 41% of patients. We further show that in vitro TERT inhibition has cytotoxic effects on primary ALM cells. These findings provide insight into the role of TERT in ALM tumorigenesis and reveal preliminary evidence that TERT inhibition represents a potential therapeutic strategy in ALM.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Chromosome Aberrations*
  • Female
  • GTP Phosphohydrolases / genetics
  • Genes, Neurofibromatosis 1
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Melanoma / genetics*
  • Melanoma / pathology
  • Membrane Proteins / genetics
  • Middle Aged
  • Mutation*
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins B-raf / genetics
  • Skin Neoplasms / genetics*
  • Skin Neoplasms / pathology
  • Telomerase / genetics*
  • Telomerase / metabolism
  • Transcriptome
  • p21-Activated Kinases / genetics


  • Membrane Proteins
  • BRAF protein, human
  • PAK1 protein, human
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins B-raf
  • p21-Activated Kinases
  • TERT protein, human
  • Telomerase
  • GTP Phosphohydrolases
  • NRAS protein, human