Characterisation and validation of Mel38; A multi-tissue microRNA signature of cutaneous melanoma

PLoS One. 2019 Feb 5;14(2):e0211504. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0211504. eCollection 2019.


Background: Histopathologic examination of melanocytic neoplasms can be challenging and subjective, with no specific circulating or tissue-based biomarkers currently available. Recently, a circulating 38-microRNA profile of melanoma (Mel38) was described. In this study, Mel38 expression and its impact on downstream mRNA regulation in solid tissue is examined.

Methods: Mel38 was applied to archival, clinically-annotated, solid-tissue genomic datasets representing benign naevi, primary and metastatic melanoma. Statistical analysis of the signature in relation to disease status, patient outcome and molecular pathways was performed.

Results: Mel38 is able to stratify genomic data from solid tissue biopsies on the basis of disease status and differences in melanoma-specific survival. Experimentally-verified messenger-RNA targets of Mel38 also exhibit prognostic expression patterns and represent key molecular pathways and events in melanoma development and progression.

Conclusion: The Mel38 microRNA profile may have diagnostic and prognostic utility in solid tissue as well as being a robust circulating biomarker of melanoma.

MeSH terms

  • Biomarkers, Tumor / genetics
  • Biomarkers, Tumor / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Melanoma / diagnosis
  • Melanoma / genetics*
  • Melanoma / metabolism
  • MicroRNAs / metabolism*
  • Principal Component Analysis
  • Prognosis
  • RNA, Messenger / metabolism
  • Survival Analysis


  • Biomarkers, Tumor
  • MicroRNAs
  • RNA, Messenger

Grant support

The authors received no specific funding for this work. Geneseq Biosciences provided support in the form of salary for author RVL but did not have any additional role in the study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript. The specific roles of these authors are articulated in the ‘author contributions’ section.