A comparison of morphologic and molecular features of BRAF, ALK, and NTRK1 fusion spitzoid neoplasms

Sapna M. Amin, Alexandra M. Haugh, Christina Y. Lee, Bin Zhang, Jeffrey A. Bubley, Emily A. Merkel, Anna Elisa Verzì, Pedram Gerami*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

52 Scopus citations


Recent studies have identified translocations involving the kinase domains of ALK, NTRK1, BRAF, RET, and ROS in spitzoid neoplasms. Subsequent studies have also characterized morphologic features corresponding to ALK and NTRK1 translocations. In this study, we sought to further compare morphologic features across a range of 49 genetically defined spitzoid neoplasms with ALK, NTRK1, BRAF, or RET fusions to determine discriminating features. We also compared them with a group of 22 spitzoid neoplasms, which were confirmed to be negative for fusions in ALK, NTRK1, BRAF, and RET. Features with the highest discriminatory value included diameter of the lesion, dermal architecture, and certain cytomorphologic features. Specifically, cases with a large diameter (≥9 mm) and wedge-shaped, plexiform dermal architecture of nests of large, spindle-shaped cells were most likely to have an ALK fusion. NTRK1-fused cases were most likely of the fusions to have Kamino bodies and were typically arranged in smaller nests with smaller predominantly spindle-shaped cells, occasionally forming rosettes. BRAF fusion cases were the only fusion subtype to have a predominance of epithelioid cells, were less organized in nests, and commonly had a sheet-like growth pattern or dysplastic Spitz architecture. BRAF fusion cases were most likely to have high-grade nuclear atypia, to be diagnosed as spitzoid melanoma, to have a positive result by melanoma fluorescence in situ hybridization assay, and to develop copy number gains in the kinase domain of the fusion protein. On the basis of experience from this cohort, BRAF-fused cases appear most likely to progress to melanoma.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)491-498
Number of pages8
JournalAmerican Journal of Surgical Pathology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jan 1 2017


  • ALK
  • BRAF
  • FISH
  • NTRK1
  • RET
  • ROS
  • Spitz nevi
  • Spitz tumors
  • melanoma
  • spitzoid melanoma

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anatomy
  • Surgery
  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine


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