The Morpho-Molecular Landscape of Spitz Neoplasms

Int J Mol Sci. 2022 Apr 11;23(8):4211. doi: 10.3390/ijms23084211.


Spitz neoplasms are a heterogeneous group of melanocytic proliferations with a great variability in the histological characteristics and in the biological behavior. Thanks to recent discoveries, the morpho-molecular landscape of Spitz lineage is becoming clearer, with the identification of subtypes with recurrent features thus providing the basis for a more solid and precise tumor classification. Indeed, specific mutually exclusive driver molecular events, namely HRAS or MAP2K1 mutations, copy number gains of 11p, and fusions involving ALK, ROS, NTRK1, NTRK2, NTRK3, MET, RET, MAP3K8, and BRAF genes, correlate with distinctive histological features. The accumulation of further molecular aberrations, instead, promotes the increasing malignant transformation of Spitz neoplasms. Thus, the detection of a driver genetic alteration can be achieved using the appropriate diagnostic tests chosen according to the histological characteristics of the lesion. This allows the recognition of subtypes with aggressive behavior requiring further molecular investigations. This review provides an update on the morpho-molecular correlations in Spitz neoplasms.

Keywords: ALK; HRAS; MAP2K1; MAP3K8; MET; NTRK1; NTRK2; NTRK3; RET; ROS1; Spitz nevus; atypical Spitz tumor; malignant Spitz tumor.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Melanoma* / genetics
  • Melanoma* / pathology
  • Mutation
  • Nevus, Epithelioid and Spindle Cell* / diagnosis
  • Nevus, Epithelioid and Spindle Cell* / genetics
  • Receptor Protein-Tyrosine Kinases / genetics
  • Skin Neoplasms* / diagnosis
  • Skin Neoplasms* / genetics
  • Skin Neoplasms* / pathology


  • Receptor Protein-Tyrosine Kinases