The mutational landscape of mucosal melanoma

Semin Cancer Biol. 2020 Apr;61:139-148. doi: 10.1016/j.semcancer.2019.09.013. Epub 2019 Oct 23.


Mucosal melanoma is a rare and aggressive subtype of melanoma that has a less favorable prognosis due to the lack of understanding and identification of oncogenic drivers. Recently, whole genome and whole exome sequencing have unveiled the molecular landscape and potential oncogenic drivers of mucosal melanoma, which remains distinct from cutaneous melanoma. In this review, we provide an overview of the genomic landscape of mucosal melanoma, with a focus on molecular studies identifying potential oncogenic drivers allowing for a better mechanistic understanding of the biology of mucosal melanoma. We summarized the published genomics and clinical data supporting the observations that mucosal melanoma harbors distinct genetic alterations and oncogenic drivers from cutaneous melanoma, and thus should be treated accordingly. The common drivers (BRAF and NRAS) found in cutaneous melanoma have lower mutation rate in mucosal melanoma. In contrast, SF3B1 and KIT have higher mutation rate in mucosal melanoma as compared to cutaneous melanoma. From the meta-analysis, we also observed that the mutational profiles are slightly different between the "upper" and "lower" regions of mucosal melanoma, providing new insights and therapeutic options for the mucosal melanoma patients. Mutations identified in mucosal melanoma should be incorporated into routine clinical testing, as there are targeted therapies already developed for treating patients with these mutations in the precision medicine era.

Keywords: Druggable targets; KIT; Mucosal melanoma; Mutational landscape; SF3B1.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Alternative Splicing
  • Biomarkers, Tumor*
  • Combined Modality Therapy
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Neoplastic
  • Genetic Association Studies
  • Genetic Predisposition to Disease*
  • Humans
  • Melanocytes
  • Melanoma / drug therapy
  • Melanoma / genetics*
  • Melanoma / metabolism
  • Melanoma / pathology*
  • Molecular Targeted Therapy
  • Mucous Membrane / metabolism*
  • Mucous Membrane / pathology*
  • Mutation*
  • Oncogenes
  • Precision Medicine
  • Prognosis
  • Signal Transduction


  • Biomarkers, Tumor