Integrating Next-Generation Sequencing with Morphology Improves Prognostic and Biologic Classification of Spitz Neoplasms

Victor L. Quan, Bin Zhang, Yongzhan Zhang, Lauren S. Mohan, Katherine Shi, Annette Wagner, Lacey Kruse, Timothy Taxter, Nike Tsiapera Beaubier, Kevin White, Lihua Zou, Pedram Gerami*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

53 Scopus citations


The newest World Health Organization classification of skin tumors suggests the elimination of cases with BRAF and NRAS mutations from the categories of Spitz tumors (ST) and Spitz melanoma (SM). The objective of this study is to better characterize the genomics of Spitz neoplasms and assess whether the integration of genomic data with morphologic diagnosis improves classification and prognostication. We performed DNA and RNA sequencing on 80 STs, 26 SMs, and 22 melanomas with Spitzoid features (MSF). Next-generation sequencing data were used to reclassify tumors by moving BRAF and/or NRAS mutated cases to MSF. In total, 81% of STs harbored kinase fusions and/or truncations. Of SMs, 77% had fusions and/or truncations with eight involving MAP3K8. Previously unreported fusions identified were MYO5A-FGFR1, MYO5A-ERBB4, and PRKDC-CTNNB1. The majority of MSFs (84%) had BRAF, NRAS, or NF1 mutations, and 62% had TERT promoter mutations. Only after reclassification, the following was observed: (i) mRNA expression showed distinct clustering of MSF, (ii) six of seven cases with recurrence and all distant metastases were of MSFs, (iii) recurrence-free survival was worse in MSF than in the ST and SM groups (P = 0.0073); and (iv) classification incorporating genomic data was highly predictive of recurrence (OR 13.20, P = 0.0197). The majority of STs and SMs have kinase fusions as primary initiating genomic events. The elimination of BRAF and/or NRAS mutated neoplasms from these categories results in the improved classification and prognostication of melanocytic neoplasms with Spitzoid cytomorphology.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1599-1608
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Investigative Dermatology
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 2020

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Dermatology
  • Molecular Biology
  • Biochemistry
  • Cell Biology


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