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1.  A large de novo 9p21.3 deletion in a girl affected by astrocytoma and multiple melanoma 
BMC Medical Genetics  2014;15:59.
Association of melanoma, neural system tumors and germ line mutations at the 9p21 region in the CDKN2A, CDKN2B and CDKN2BAS genes has been reported in a small number of families worldwide and described as a discrete syndrome in melanoma families registered as a rare disease, the melanoma–astrocytoma syndrome.
Case presentation
We here studied two young patients developing melanoma after radiotherapy for astrocytoma, both reporting lack of family history for melanoma or neural system tumors at genetic counselling. Patient A is a girl treated for anaplastic astrocytoma at 10 years and for multiple melanomas on the scalp associated to dysplastic nevi two years later. Her monozygotic twin sister carried dysplastic nevi and a slow growing, untreated cerebral lesion. Direct sequencing analysis showed no alterations in melanoma susceptibility genes including CDKN2A, CDK4, MC1R and MITF or in TP53. By microsatellite analysis, multiplex ligation-dependent probe amplification, and array comparative genomic hybridization a deletion including the CDKN2A, CDKN2B and CDKN2BAS gene cluster was detected in both twin sisters, encompassing a large region at 9p21.3 and occurring de novo after the loss of one paternal allele.
Patient B is a boy of 7 years when treated for astrocytoma then developing melanoma associated to congenital nevi on the head 10 years later: sequencing and multiplex ligation-dependent probe amplification revealed a normal profile of the CDKN2A/CDKN2B/CDKN2BAS region. Array comparative genomic hybridization confirmed the absence of deletions at 9p21.3 and failed to reveal known pathogenic copy number variations.
By comparison with the other germ line deletions at the CDKN2A, CDKN2B and CDKN2BAS gene cluster reported in melanoma susceptible families, the deletion detected in the two sisters is peculiar for its de novo origin and for its extension, as it represents the largest constitutive deletion at 9p21.3 region identified so far.
In addition, the two studied cases add to other evidence indicating association of melanoma with exposure to ionizing radiation and with second neoplasm after childhood cancer. Melanoma should be considered in the monitoring of pigmented lesions in young cancer patients.
PMCID: PMC4036080  PMID: 24884915
Melanoma-astrocytoma syndrome; 9p21.3 deletion; CDKN2A; CDKN2BAS; MLPA; Oligo array-CGH
2.  A novel recurrent mutation in MITF predisposes to familial and sporadic melanoma 
Nature  2011;480(7375):99-103.
So far, two familial melanoma genes have been identified, accounting for a minority of genetic risk in families. Mutations in CDKN2A account for approximately 40% of familial cases1, and predisposing mutations in CDK4 have been reported in a very small number of melanoma kindreds2. To identify other familial melanoma genes, here we conducted whole-genome sequencing of probands from several melanoma families, identifying one individual carrying a novel germline variant (coding DNA sequence c.G1075A; protein sequence p.E318K; rs149617956) in the melanoma-lineage-specific oncogene microphthalmia-associated transcription factor (MITF). Although the variant co-segregated with melanoma in some but not all cases in the family, linkage analysis of 31 families subsequently identified to carry the variant generated a log odds ratio (lod) score of 2.7 under a dominant model, indicating E318K as a possible intermediate risk variant. Consistent with this, the E318K variant was significantly associated with melanoma in a large Australian case–control sample. Likewise, it was similarly associated in an independent case–control sample from the United Kingdom. In the Australian sample, the variant allele was significantly over-represented in cases with a family history of melanoma, multiple primary melanomas, or both. The variant allele was also associated with increased naevus count and non-blue eye colour. Functional analysis of E318K showed that MITF encoded by the variant allele had impaired sumoylation and differentially regulated several MITF targets. These data indicate that MITF is a melanoma-predisposition gene and highlight the utility of whole-genome sequencing to identify novel rare variants associated with disease susceptibility.
PMCID: PMC3266855  PMID: 22080950
3.  Melanoma prone families with CDK4 germline mutation: phenotypic profile and associations with MC1R variants 
Journal of Medical Genetics  2013;50(4):264-270.
CDKN2A and CDK4 are high risk susceptibility genes for cutaneous malignant melanoma. Melanoma families with CDKN2A germline mutations have been extensively characterised, whereas CDK4 families are rare and lack a systematic investigation of their phenotype.
All known families with CDK4 germline mutations (n=17) were recruited for the study by contacting the authors of published papers or by requests via the Melanoma Genetics Consortium (GenoMEL). Phenotypic data related to primary melanoma and pigmentation characteristics were collected. The CDK4 exon 2 and the complete coding region of the MC1R gene were sequenced.
Eleven families carried the CDK4 R24H mutation whereas six families had the R24C mutation. The total number of subjects with verified melanoma was 103, with a median age at first melanoma diagnosis of 39 years. Forty-three (41.7%) subjects had developed multiple primary melanomas (MPM). A CDK4 mutation was found in 89 (including 62 melanoma cases) of 209 tested subjects. CDK4 positive family members (both melanoma cases and unaffected subjects) were more likely to have clinically atypical nevi than CDK4 negative family members (p<0.001). MPM subjects had a higher frequency of MC1R red hair colour variants compared with subjects with one tumour (p=0.010).
Our study shows that families with CDK4 germline mutations cannot be distinguished phenotypically from CDKN2A melanoma families, which are characterised by early onset of disease, increased occurrence of clinically atypical nevi, and development of MPM. In a clinical setting, the CDK4 gene should therefore always be examined when a melanoma family tests negative for CDKN2A mutation.
PMCID: PMC3607098  PMID: 23384855
Molecular genetics; Cancer: dermatological; Genetic screening/counselling
4.  Prevalence of variations in melanoma susceptibility genes among Slovenian melanoma families 
BMC Medical Genetics  2008;9:86.
Two high-risk genes have been implicated in the development of CM (cutaneous melanoma). Germline mutations of the CDKN2A gene are found in < 25% of melanoma-prone families and there are only seven families with mutation of the CDK4 gene reported to date. Beside those high penetrance genes, certain allelic variants of the MC1R gene modify the risk of developing the disease.
The aims of our study were: to determine the prevalence of germline CDKN2A mutations and variants in members of families with familial CM and in patients with multiple primary CM; to search for possible CDK4 mutations, and to determine the frequency of variations in the MC1R gene.
From January 2001 until January 2007, 64 individuals were included in the study. The group included 28 patients and 7 healthy relatives belonging to 25 families, 26 patients with multiple primary tumors and 3 children with CM. Additionally 54 healthy individuals were included as a control group. Mutations and variants of the melanoma susceptibility genes were identified by direct sequencing.
Seven families with CDKN2A mutations were discovered (7/25 or 28.0%). The L94Q mutation found in one family had not been previously reported in other populations. The D84N variant, with possible biological impact, was discovered in the case of patient without family history but with multiple primary CM. Only one mutation carrier was found in the control group. Further analysis revealed that c.540C>T heterozygous carriers were more common in the group of CM patients and their healthy relatives (11/64 vs. 2/54). One p14ARF variant was discovered in the control group and no mutations of the CDK4 gene were found.
Most frequently found variants of the MC1R gene were T314T, V60L, V92M, R151C, R160W and R163Q with frequencies slightly higher in the group of patients and their relatives than in the group of controls, but the difference was statistically insignificant.
The present study has shown high prevalence of p16INK4A mutations in Slovenian population of familial melanoma patients (37%) and an absence of p14ARF or CDK4 mutations.
PMCID: PMC2556318  PMID: 18803811
The British journal of dermatology  2011;165(6):1219-1222.
The penetrance of CDKN2A mutations is subject to geographic and latitudinal variation and is presumably dictated by UVR exposure and possibly other co-inherited genetic factors. The frequency of mutations increases with the number of family members affected and the number of primary tumors and also fluctuates with geography. Up to date, little is known about the prevalence of CDKN2A mutations in melanoma patients from Greece.
To characterize the frequency of CDKN2A and CDK4 mutations in a hospital-based population of Greek patients with melanoma.
Three-hundred and four consecutive single primary melanoma (SPM), 9 familial melanomas (FM) and 7 multiple primary melanoma cases (MPM) were assessed for sequence variants in exons 1α, 1β and 2 of CDKN2A and exon 2 of CDK4.
Germline CDKN2A mutations were detected in 10 of 304 SPM (3.29%), in 4 of 7 MPM (57.0%) and in 2 of 9 FM (22.2%) cases. The most common mutation was a Northern European allele (p16 p.R24P) detected in 8 individuals. Five previously unreported CDKN2A variants were also identified: −34G>C, c.41_43delins20bp, c.301G>C(p.G101R), c.301G>A(p.G101E) and c.296_297insGACC. We also describe the first report of a Cdk4 p.R24H substitution in a Greek family.
The Greek population appears to harbor a higher prevalence of CDKN2A mutation than other reported cohorts. This supports the notion that genetic susceptibility may play a stronger influence in a country with a relatively low incidence of melanoma. Furthermore, the identification of Northern European alleles suggests that gene migration may be responsible, in part, for the observed cases in Greece.
PMCID: PMC3225501  PMID: 21801156
melanoma; Greek; CDKN2A; CDK4; mutations
6.  Some Molecular and Clinical Aspects of Genetic Predisposition to Malignant Melanoma and Tumours of Various Site of Origin 
Based on epidemiological data we can assume that at least some malignant melanoma (MM) and breast cancer cases can be caused by the same genetic factors. CDKN2A, which encodes the p16 protein, a cyclin-dependent kinase inhibitor suppressing cell proliferation, is regarded as a major melanoma susceptibility gene and the literature has also implicated this gene in predisposition to breast cancer. Genes also known to predispose to MM include XPD and MC1R. We studied CDKN2A/ARF, XPD and MC1R for their associations with melanoma and breast cancer risk in Polish patients and controls. We found that CDKN2A and ARF do not contribute significantly to either familial melanoma or malignant melanoma within the context of a cancer familial aggregation of disease with breast cancer. However, the common variant of the CDKN2A gene A148T, previously regarded as non-pathogenic, may predispose to malignant melanoma, early-onset breast cancer and lung cancer. Compound carriers of common XPD variants may be at slightly increased risk of breast cancer or late–onset malignant melanoma. Common recurrent variants of the MC1R gene (V60L, R151C, R163Q and R160W) may predispose to malignant melanoma. In general, the establishment of surveillance protocols proposed as an option for carriers of common alterations in CDKN2A, XPD or MC1R variants requires additional studies. It is possible that missense variants of genes for which truncating mutations are clearly pathogenic may also be deleterious, but with reduced penetrance. This may be overlooked unless large numbers of patients and controls are studied. A registry that includes 2000 consecutive breast cancer cases, 3500 early onset breast cancer patients, 500 unselected malignant melanoma and over 700 colorectal cancer patients has been established in the International Hereditary Cancer Centre and can contribute to these types of large association studies.
PMCID: PMC2736997  PMID: 19725989
CDKN2A; ARF; XPD; MC1R; melanoma; breast cancer; family history; age at diagnosis; cancer risk; mutation analysis; Poland
7.  The contribution of large genomic deletions at the CDKN2A locus to the burden of familial melanoma 
British Journal of Cancer  2008;99(2):364-370.
Mutations in two genes encoding cell cycle regulatory proteins have been shown to cause familial cutaneous malignant melanoma (CMM). About 20% of melanoma-prone families bear a point mutation in the CDKN2A locus at 9p21, which encodes two unrelated proteins, p16INK4a and p14ARF. Rare mutations in CDK4 have also been linked to the disease. Although the CDKN2A gene has been shown to be the major melanoma predisposing gene, there remains a significant proportion of melanoma kindreds linked to 9p21 in which germline mutations of CDKN2A have not been identified through direct exon sequencing. The purpose of this study was to assess the contribution of large rearrangements in CDKN2A to the disease in melanoma-prone families using multiplex ligation-dependent probe amplification. We examined 214 patients from independent pedigrees with at least two CMM cases. All had been tested for CDKN2A and CDK4 point mutation, and 47 were found positive. Among the remaining 167 negative patients, one carried a novel genomic deletion of CDKN2A exon 2. Overall, genomic deletions represented 2.1% of total mutations in this series (1 of 48), confirming that they explain a very small proportion of CMM susceptibility. In addition, we excluded a new gene on 9p21, KLHL9, as being a major CMM gene.
PMCID: PMC2480975  PMID: 18612309
melanoma-prone families; CDKN2A; p16INK4a; p14ARF; KLHL9; multiplex ligation-dependent probe amplification
8.  Association of genetic variants in CDK6 and XRCC1 with the risk of dysplastic nevi in melanoma-prone families 
Dysplastic nevi (DN) is a strong risk factor for cutaneous malignant melanoma (CMM), and it frequently occurs in melanoma-prone families. To identify genetic variants for DN, we genotyped 677 tagSNPs in 38 melanoma candidate genes that are involved in pigmentation, DNA repair, cell cycle control, and melanocyte proliferation pathways in a total of 504 individuals (310 with DN, 194 without DN) from 53 melanoma-prone families (23 CDKN2A mutation positive and 30 negative). Conditional logistic regression, conditioning on families, was used to estimate the association between DN and each SNP separately, adjusted for age, sex, CMM and CDKN2A status. P-values for SNPs in the same gene were combined to yield gene-specific p-values. Two genes, CDK6 and XRCC1, were significantly associated with DN after Bonferroni correction for multiple testing (P=0.0001 and 0.00025, respectively), whereas neither gene was significantly associated with CMM. Associations for CDK6 SNPs were stronger in CDKN2A mutation positive families (rs2079147, Pinteraction=0.0033), whereas XRCC1 SNPs had similar effects in mutation-positive and negative families. The association for one of the associated SNPs in XRCC1 (rs25487) was replicated in two independent datasets (random effect meta-analysis: P<0.0001). Our findings suggest that some genetic variants may contribute to DN risk independently of their association with CMM in melanoma-prone families.
PMCID: PMC3873368  PMID: 23892592
9.  CDKN2A and CDK4 mutation analysis in Italian melanoma-prone families: functional characterization of a novel CDKN2A germ line mutation 
British Journal of Cancer  2001;85(6):836-844.
Physical interaction between CDKN2A/p16 and CDK4 proteins regulates the cell cycle progression through the G1 phase and dysfunction of these proteins by gene mutation is implicated in genetic predisposition to melanoma. We analysed 15 Italian melanoma families for germ line mutations in the coding region of the CDKN2A gene and exon 2 of the CDK4 gene. One novel disease-associated mutation (P48T), 3 known pathological mutations (R24P, G101W and N71S) and 2 common polymorphisms (A148T and Nt500 G>C) were identified in the CDKN2A gene. In a family harbouring the R24P mutation, an intronic variant (IVS1, +37 G>C) of uncertain significance was detected in a non-carrier melanoma case. The overall incidence of CDKN2A mutations was 33.3%, but this percentage was higher in families with 3 or more melanoma cases (50%) than in those with only 2 affected relatives (25%). Noteworthy, functional analysis established that the novel mutated protein, while being impaired in cell growth and inhibition assays, retains some in vitro binding to CDK4/6. No variant in the p16-binding region of CDK4 was identified in our families. Our results, obtained in a heterogeneous group of families, support the view that inactivating mutations of CDKN2A contribute to melanoma susceptibility more than activating mutations of CDK4 and that other genetic factors must be responsible for melanoma clustering in a high proportion of families. In addition, they indicate the need for a combination of functional assays to determine the pathogenetic nature of new CDKN2A mutations. © 2001 Cancer Research Campaign
PMCID: PMC2375081  PMID: 11556834
familial melanoma; CDKN2A and CDK4 genes; germ line mutations
10.  Role of key-regulator genes in melanoma susceptibility and pathogenesis among patients from South Italy 
BMC Cancer  2009;9:352.
Several genetic alterations have been demonstrated to contribute to the development and progression of melanoma. In this study, we further investigated the impact of key-regulator genes in susceptibility and pathogenesis of such a disease.
A large series (N = 846) of sporadic and familial cases originating from South Italy was screened for germline mutations in p16CDKN2A, BRCA2, and MC1R genes by DHPLC analysis and automated DNA sequencing. Paired primary melanomas and lymph node metastases from same patients (N = 35) as well as melanoma cell lines (N = 18) were analyzed for somatic mutations in NRAS, BRAF, and p16CDKN2A genes.
For melanoma susceptibility, investigations at germline level indicated that p16CDKN2A was exclusively mutated in 16/545 (2.9%) non-Sardinian patients, whereas BRCA2 germline mutations were observed in 4/91 (4.4%) patients from North Sardinia only. Two MC1R germline variants, Arg151Cys and Asp294His, were significantly associated with melanoma in Sardinia. Regarding genetic events involved in melanoma pathogenesis at somatic level, mutually-exclusive mutations of NRAS and BRAF genes were observed at quite same rate (about two thirds) in cultured and in vivo melanomas (either primary or metastatic lesions). Conversely, p16CDKN2A gene alterations were observed at increased rates moving from primary to metastatic melanomas and melanoma cell lines. Activation of the ERK gene product was demonstrated to be consistently induced by a combination of molecular alterations (NRAS/BRAF mutations and p16CDKN2A silencing).
Our findings further clarified that: a) mutation prevalence in melanoma susceptibility genes may vary within each specific geographical area; b) multiple molecular events are accumulating during melanomagenesis.
PMCID: PMC2763007  PMID: 19799798
11.  CDKN2A mutations in Spanish cutaneous malignant melanoma families and patients with multiple melanomas and other neoplasia 
Journal of Medical Genetics  1999;36(6):490-493.
The CDKN2A gene has been implicated in cutaneous malignant melanoma (CMM) in about 40% of families with linkage to chromosome 9p21, while a small proportion of families have mutations in the CDK4 gene. In order to estimate the importance of these genes in the predisposition to CMM in Spanish families and patients we have analysed, by SSCA, a total of 56 subjects belonging to 34 CMM families, and nine patients with multiple CMM and other neoplasia. We have detected germline CDKN2A mutations in six out of the 34 families (17%). A frameshift mutation (358delG) and four missense mutations (G59V, G101W (two cases), D84Y, and R87W) were identified. Five CMM patients from different families (14%) carried the A148T variant, which is known not to affect p16 activity. No mutations were detected in the patients with multiple CMM or other neoplasms. We have not found mutations either in exon 1β of the CDKN2A gene or in exon 2A of CDK4. Linkage analysis of the 9p21 region showed exclusion for one of the families for CMM and for four families for CMM/dysplastic naevi. This study indicates a small role for CDKN2A in Spanish CMM families and suggests that other genes are also responsible for CMM predisposition.

Keywords: cutaneous malignant melanoma; CDKN2A; p16; CDK4
PMCID: PMC1734379  PMID: 10874641
12.  Association of MC1R Variants and Host Phenotypes With Melanoma Risk in CDKN2A Mutation Carriers: A GenoMEL Study 
Carrying the cyclin-dependent kinase inhibitor 2A (CDKN2A) germline mutations is associated with a high risk for melanoma. Penetrance of CDKN2A mutations is modified by pigmentation characteristics, nevus phenotypes, and some variants of the melanocortin-1 receptor gene (MC1R), which is known to have a role in the pigmentation process. However, investigation of the associations of both MC1R variants and host phenotypes with melanoma risk has been limited.
We included 815 CDKN2A mutation carriers (473 affected, and 342 unaffected, with melanoma) from 186 families from 15 centers in Europe, North America, and Australia who participated in the Melanoma Genetics Consortium. In this family-based study, we assessed the associations of the four most frequent MC1R variants (V60L, V92M, R151C, and R160W) and the number of variants (1, ≥2 variants), alone or jointly with the host phenotypes (hair color, propensity to sunburn, and number of nevi), with melanoma risk in CDKN2A mutation carriers. These associations were estimated and tested using generalized estimating equations. All statistical tests were two-sided.
Carrying any one of the four most frequent MC1R variants (V60L, V92M, R151C, R160W) in CDKN2A mutation carriers was associated with a statistically significantly increased risk for melanoma across all continents (1.24 × 10−6 ≤ P ≤ .0007). A consistent pattern of increase in melanoma risk was also associated with increase in number of MC1R variants. The risk of melanoma associated with at least two MC1R variants was 2.6-fold higher than the risk associated with only one variant (odds ratio = 5.83 [95% confidence interval = 3.60 to 9.46] vs 2.25 [95% confidence interval = 1.44 to 3.52]; Ptrend = 1.86 × 10−8). The joint analysis of MC1R variants and host phenotypes showed statistically significant associations of melanoma risk, together with MC1R variants (.0001 ≤ P ≤ .04), hair color (.006 ≤ P ≤ .06), and number of nevi (6.9 × 10−6 ≤ P ≤ .02).
Results show that MC1R variants, hair color, and number of nevi were jointly associated with melanoma risk in CDKN2A mutation carriers. This joint association may have important consequences for risk assessments in familial settings.
PMCID: PMC2957428  PMID: 20876876
13.  A Role for ATF2 in Regulating MITF and Melanoma Development 
PLoS Genetics  2010;6(12):e1001258.
The transcription factor ATF2 has been shown to attenuate melanoma susceptibility to apoptosis and to promote its ability to form tumors in xenograft models. To directly assess ATF2's role in melanoma development, we crossed a mouse melanoma model (NrasQ61K::Ink4a−/−) with mice expressing a transcriptionally inactive form of ATF2 in melanocytes. In contrast to 7/21 of the NrasQ61K::Ink4a−/− mice, only 1/21 mice expressing mutant ATF2 in melanocytes developed melanoma. Gene expression profiling identified higher MITF expression in primary melanocytes expressing transcriptionally inactive ATF2. MITF downregulation by ATF2 was confirmed in the skin of Atf2−/− mice, in primary human melanocytes, and in 50% of human melanoma cell lines. Inhibition of MITF transcription by MITF was shown to be mediated by ATF2-JunB–dependent suppression of SOX10 transcription. Remarkably, oncogenic BRAF (V600E)–dependent focus formation of melanocytes on soft agar was inhibited by ATF2 knockdown and partially rescued upon shMITF co-expression. On melanoma tissue microarrays, a high nuclear ATF2 to MITF ratio in primary specimens was associated with metastatic disease and poor prognosis. Our findings establish the importance of transcriptionally active ATF2 in melanoma development through fine-tuning of MITF expression.
Author Summary
Understanding mechanisms underlying early stages in melanoma development is of major interest and importance. Recent studies indicate a role for MITF, a master regulator of melanocyte development and biogenesis, in melanoma progression. Here we demonstrate that the transcription factor ATF2 negatively regulates MITF transcription in melanocytes and in about 50% of melanoma cell lines. Increased MITF expression, seen upon inhibition of ATF2, effectively attenuated the ability of BRAFV600E-expressing melanocytes to exhibit a transformed phenotype, an effect partially rescued when MITF expression was also blocked. Significantly, the development of melanoma in mice carrying genetic changes seen in human tumors was inhibited upon inactivation of ATF2 in melanocytes. Melanocytes from mice lacking active ATF2 expressed increased levels of MITF, confirming that ATF2 negatively regulates MITF and implicating this newly discovered regulatory link in melanoma development. Primary melanoma specimens that exhibit a high nuclear ATF2-to-MITF ratio were found to be associated with metastatic disease and poor prognosis, further substantiating the significance of MITF control by ATF2. In all, these findings provide genetic evidence for the role of ATF2 in melanoma development and indicate an ATF2 function in fine-tuning MITF expression, which is central to understanding MITF control at the early phases of melanocyte transformation.
PMCID: PMC3009656  PMID: 21203491
14.  Chromosome 9p21 SNPs Associated with Multiple Disease Phenotypes Correlate with ANRIL Expression 
PLoS Genetics  2010;6(4):e1000899.
Single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) on chromosome 9p21 are associated with coronary artery disease, diabetes, and multiple cancers. Risk SNPs are mainly non-coding, suggesting that they influence expression and may act in cis. We examined the association between 56 SNPs in this region and peripheral blood expression of the three nearest genes CDKN2A, CDKN2B, and ANRIL using total and allelic expression in two populations of healthy volunteers: 177 British Caucasians and 310 mixed-ancestry South Africans. Total expression of the three genes was correlated (P<0.05), suggesting that they are co-regulated. SNP associations mapped by allelic and total expression were similar (r = 0.97, P = 4.8×10−99), but the power to detect effects was greater for allelic expression. The proportion of expression variance attributable to cis-acting effects was 8% for CDKN2A, 5% for CDKN2B, and 20% for ANRIL. SNP associations were similar in the two populations (r = 0.94, P = 10−72). Multiple SNPs were independently associated with expression of each gene (P<0.05 after correction for multiple testing), suggesting that several sites may modulate disease susceptibility. Individual SNPs correlated with changes in expression up to 1.4-fold for CDKN2A, 1.3-fold for CDKN2B, and 2-fold for ANRIL. Risk SNPs for coronary disease, stroke, diabetes, melanoma, and glioma were all associated with allelic expression of ANRIL (all P<0.05 after correction for multiple testing), while association with the other two genes was only detectable for some risk SNPs. SNPs had an inverse effect on ANRIL and CDKN2B expression, supporting a role of antisense transcription in CDKN2B regulation. Our study suggests that modulation of ANRIL expression mediates susceptibility to several important human diseases.
Author Summary
Genetic variants on chromosome 9p21 have been associated with several important diseases including coronary artery disease, diabetes, and multiple cancers. Most of the risk variants in this region do not alter any protein sequence and are therefore likely to act by influencing the expression of nearby genes. We investigated whether chromosome 9p21 variants are correlated with expression of the three nearest genes (CDKN2A, CDKN2B, and ANRIL) which might mediate the association with disease. Using two different techniques to study effects on expression in blood from two separate populations of healthy volunteers, we show that variants associated with disease are all correlated with ANRIL expression, but associations with the other two genes are weaker and less consistent. Multiple genetic variants are independently associated with expression of all three genes. Although total expression levels of CDKN2A, CDKN2B, and ANRIL are positively correlated, individual genetic variants influence ANRIL and CDKN2B expression in opposite directions, suggesting a possible role of ANRIL in CDKN2B regulation. Our study suggests that modulation of ANRIL expression mediates susceptibility to several important human diseases.
PMCID: PMC2851566  PMID: 20386740
15.  Genetic variants in DNA repair genes and the risk of cutaneous malignant melanoma in melanoma-prone families with/without CDKN2A mutations 
Cutaneous malignant melanoma (CMM) is an etiologically heterogeneous disease with genetic, environmental (sun exposure) and host (pigmentation/nevi) factors, and their interactions contributing to risk. Genetic variants in DNA repair genes may be particularly important since their altered function in response to sun exposure-related DNA damage maybe related to risk for CMM. However, systematic evaluations of genetic variants in DNA repair genes are limited, particularly in high-risk families.
We comprehensively analyzed DNA repair gene polymorphisms and CMM risk in melanoma-prone families with/without CDKN2A mutations. A total of 586 individuals (183 CMM) from 53 families (23 CDKN2A (+), 30 CDKN2A (−)) were genotyped for 2964 tagSNPs in 131 DNA repair genes. Conditional logistic regression, conditioning on families, was used to estimate trend p-values, odds ratios and 95% confidence intervals for the association between CMM and each SNP separately, adjusted for age and sex. P-values for SNPs in the same gene were combined to yield gene specific p-values. Two genes, POLN and PRKDC, were significantly associated with melanoma after Bonferroni correction for multiple testing (p=0.0003 and 0.00035, respectively). DCLRE1B showed suggestive association (p=0.0006). 28~56% of genotyped SNPs in these genes had single SNP p<0.05. The most significant SNPs in POLN and PRKDC had similar effects in CDKN2A (+) and CDKN2A (−) families. Our finding suggests that polymorphisms in DNA repair genes, POLN and PRKDC, were associated with increased melanoma risk in melanoma families with and without CDKN2A mutations.
PMCID: PMC3274649  PMID: 21671477
16.  CDKN2A Mutations and Melanoma Risk in the Icelandic Population 
Journal of medical genetics  2008;45(5):284-289.
Germline CDKN2A mutations have been observed in 20-40% of high-risk melanoma-prone families, however little is known about their prevalence in population-based series of melanoma cases and controls.
We resequenced the CDKN2A gene, including the p14ARF variant and promoter regions, in approximately 703 registry-ascertained melanoma cases and 691 population-based controls from Iceland, a country in which the incidence of melanoma has increased rapidly.
We identified a novel germline variant, G89D that was strongly associated with increased melanoma risk and appeared to be an Icelandic founder mutation. The G89D variant was present in about 2% of Icelandic invasive cutaneous malignant melanoma cases. Relatives of affected G89D carriers were at significantly increased risk of melanoma, head & neck cancers, and pancreatic carcinoma compared to relatives of other melanoma patients. Nineteen other germline variants were identified, but none conferred an unequivocal risk of melanoma.
This population-based study of Icelandic melanoma cases and controls showed a frequency of disease-related CDKN2A mutant alleles ranging from 0.7% to 1.0%, thus expanding our knowledge about the frequency of CDKN2A mutations in different populations. In contrast to North America and Australia where a broad spectrum of mutations was observed at a similar frequency, in Iceland, functional CDKN2A mutations consists of only one or two different variants. Additional genetic and/or environmental factors are likely critical for explaining the high incidence rates for melanoma in Iceland. This study adds to the geographic regions for which population-based estimates of CDKN2A mutation frequencies are available.
PMCID: PMC3236640  PMID: 18178632
melanoma; CDKN2A; G89D; pancreatic cancer; population-based
17.  POT1 loss-of-function variants predispose to familial melanoma 
Nature genetics  2014;46(5):478-481.
Deleterious germline variants in CDKN2A account for around 40% of familial melanoma cases1, while rare variants in CDK4, BRCA2, BAP1, and the promoter of TERT, have also been linked to the disease2-5. Here we set out to identify novel high-penetrance susceptibility genes in unexplained cases by sequencing 184 melanoma patients from 105 pedigrees recruited in the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, and Australia that were negative for variants in known predisposition genes. We identify families where melanoma co-segregates with loss-of-function variants in the protection of telomeres 1 (POT1) gene, a proportion of members presenting with an early age of onset and multiple primaries. We show that these variants either affect POT1 mRNA splicing or alter key residues in the highly conserved oligonucleotide-/oligosaccharide-binding (OB) domains of POT1, disrupting protein-telomere binding, leading to increased telomere length. Thus, POT1 variants predispose to melanoma formation via a direct effect on telomeres.
PMCID: PMC4266105  PMID: 24686849
18.  Assessment of PALB2 as a Candidate Melanoma Susceptibility Gene 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(6):e100683.
Partner and localizer of BRCA2 (PALB2) interacts with BRCA2 to enable double strand break repair through homologous recombination. Similar to BRCA2, germline mutations in PALB2 have been shown to predispose to Fanconi anaemia as well as pancreatic and breast cancer. The PALB2/BRCA2 protein interaction, as well as the increased melanoma risk observed in families harbouring BRCA2 mutations, makes PALB2 a candidate for melanoma susceptibility. In order to assess PALB2 as a melanoma predisposition gene, we sequenced the entire protein-coding sequence of PALB2 in probands from 182 melanoma families lacking pathogenic mutations in known high penetrance melanoma susceptibility genes: CDKN2A, CDK4, and BAP1. In addition, we interrogated whole-genome and exome data from another 19 kindreds with a strong family history of melanoma for deleterious mutations in PALB2. Here we report a rare known deleterious PALB2 mutation (rs118203998) causing a premature truncation of the protein (p.Y1183X) in an individual who had developed four different cancer types, including melanoma. Three other family members affected with melanoma did not carry the variant. Overall our data do not support a case for PALB2 being associated with melanoma predisposition.
PMCID: PMC4065098  PMID: 24949998
19.  Loci at 9p21 and 22q13 harbour alleles for development of cutaneous nevi and melanoma 
Nature genetics  2009;41(8):915-919.
High number of melanocytic nevi is the most important known risk factor for cutaneous melanoma. We conducted a genome-wide association study for nevus count using 297,108 tag-SNPs in 1,524 twins and validated our results in an independent cohort of 4,107 subjects. We identified strongly associated variants in MTAP, a gene adjacent to the familial melanoma susceptibility locus CDKN2A on 9p21 (rs4636294, P = 3.4 × 10-15). We further identified PLA2G6 on 22q13.1 (rs2284063, P = 3.4 × 10-8). Both loci were also associated with melanoma risk in 3,131 melanoma cases from two independent studies (odds-ratios 1.23 at rs10757257 and rs132985). About one subject in 11 is homozygous for the variant at both loci with twice the number of nevi compared to those homozygous for the protective alleles, and double the risk for melanoma. These data provide the first evidence for common melanoma alleles whose effects are mediated through nevus number.
PMCID: PMC3080738  PMID: 19578365
20.  CYP1B1 mutations in patients with primary congenital glaucoma from Saudi Arabia 
BMC Medical Genetics  2014;15(1):109.
CYP1B1 is the most commonly mutated gene in primary congenital glaucoma (PCG). This study was undertaken to identify mutations in CYP1B1 in the Western region of Saudi Arabia.
Blood of patients who had typical findings of PCG, were screened by direct sequencing of all coding exons and splice junctions of the CYP1B1 gene.
34 patients were studied; 18 patients belonged to 8 families, and 16 patients were non-familial, isolated PCG. Consanguinity was found in 27/34 (79.4%) of cases. All patients were diagnosed to have bilateral PCG at birth except one child, who had glaucoma in the right eye. More males (61.8%) were affected than females (38.2%). 79.4% (27/34) of patients were solved with pathogenic mutations and 20.6% (7/34) remained unsolved. Of the solved ones, 22.2% (6/27) of patients carry a pathogenic allele on one allele while the other allele remained yet to be determined. Direct sequencing of exon 2 revealed two pathogenic variants (p.Gly61Glu, p.Glu229Lys). P.Gly61Glu substitution was found both homozygously in 63% (17/27) of cases, and heterozygously in one patient. P.Glu229Lys variant was found heterozygous in 3.7% (1/27) of cases. One pathogenic variant (p.Arg469Trp) was found in exon 3, and is present homozygously in 14.8% (4/27) of cases while four patients have this variant heterozygously. All mutations were reported previously in the Saudi population, except p.Glu229Lys. Severe cases were associated with p.Gly61Glu, and p.Arg469Trp in 50% and 30% of ten patients respectively.
This study confirms that CYP1B1 mutations are the most frequent cause of PCG in the Saudi population, with p.Gly61Glu being the major disease-associated mutation. P.Glu229Lys is a newly discovered mutation in our PCG patients. Patient lacking mutation in CYP1B1 gene seems likely, to have another genetic loci involved in the pathogenesis of the disease, and need further study. Genetic studies of recessive diseases such as PCG is important in consanguineous populations, since it will increase awareness and allows genetic counseling to be offered to patients and their relatives. This will not only reduce the disease to be inherited to future generations, but will also reduce the disease burden in the community.
PMCID: PMC4258803  PMID: 25261878
Congenital; Glaucoma; Gene; Mutation; CYP1B1
21.  Mutation analysis of genes that control the G1/S cell cycle in melanoma: TP53, CDKN1A, CDKN2A, and CDKN2B 
BMC Cancer  2005;5:36.
The role of genes involved in the control of progression from the G1 to the S phase of the cell cycle in melanoma tumors in not fully known. The aim of our study was to analyse mutations in TP53, CDKN1A, CDKN2A, and CDKN2B genes in melanoma tumors and melanoma cell lines
We analysed 39 primary and metastatic melanomas and 9 melanoma cell lines by single-stranded conformational polymorphism (SSCP).
The single-stranded technique showed heterozygous defects in the TP53 gene in 8 of 39 (20.5%) melanoma tumors: three new single point mutations in intronic sequences (introns 1 and 2) and exon 10, and three new single nucleotide polymorphisms located in introns 1 and 2 (C to T transition at position 11701 in intron 1; C insertion at position 11818 in intron 2; and C insertion at position 11875 in intron 2). One melanoma tumor exhibited two heterozygous alterations in the CDKN2A exon 1 one of which was novel (stop codon, and missense mutation). No defects were found in the remaining genes.
These results suggest that these genes are involved in melanoma tumorigenesis, although they may be not the major targets. Other suppressor genes that may be informative of the mechanism of tumorigenesis in skin melanomas should be studied.
PMCID: PMC1097717  PMID: 15819981
22.  Associations of 9p21 variants with cutaneous malignant melanoma, nevi, and pigmentation phenotypes in melanoma-prone families with and without CDKN2A mutations 
Familial cancer  2010;9(4):625-633.
Chromosome 9p21 has been implicated in the pathogenesis of cutaneous malignant melanoma (CMM). In addition to CDKN2A, the major known high-risk susceptibility gene for CMM, recent studies suggest that other 9p21 genes may be involved in melanoma/nevi development. To identify 9p21 variants that influence susceptibility to CMM and number of nevi in CMM-prone families with and without CDKN2A mutations, we analyzed 562 individuals (183 CMM) from 53 families (23 CDKN2A+, 30 CDKN2A−) for 233 tagging SNPs in 21 genes at 9p21. Single SNP- and gene-based regression analyses were used to assess the risk of CMM, nevi count, skin complexion, and tanning ability associated with these SNPs and genes. We found that SNP rs7023329 in the MTAP gene was associated with number of nevi (Ptrend=0.003) confirming a recent finding by a genome-wide association study. In addition, three SNPs in the ACO1 gene, rs7855483 (Ptrend=0.002), rs17288067 (Ptrend=0.0009), and rs10813813 (Ptrend=0.005), showed the strongest associations with CMM risk. None of the examined 9p21 SNPs was associated with skin complexion, whereas two SNPs, rs10964862 in IFNW1 (Ptrend=0.003), and rs13290968 in TUSC1 (Ptrend=0.0006), were associated with tanning ability. Gene-based analyses suggested that the ACO1 gene was significantly associated with CMM (P=0.0004); genes IFNW1 (P=0.002) and ACO1 (P=0.0002) were significantly associated with tanning ability. Our findings are consistent with recent proposals that additional 9p21 genes may contribute to CMM susceptibility in CMM-prone families. These genetic variants may, at least partially, exert their effects through nevi and tanning ability.
PMCID: PMC3233727  PMID: 20574843
melanoma; nevi; chromosome 9p21; SNP; CDKN2A
23.  Individuals with presumably hereditary uveal melanoma do not harbour germline mutations in the coding regions of either the P16INK4A, P14ARF or cdk4 genes 
British Journal of Cancer  2000;82(4):818-822.
In familial cutaneous malignant melanoma (CMM), disruption of the retinoblastoma (pRB) pathway frequently occurs through inactivating mutations in the p16 (p16INK4A/CDKN2A/MTS1) gene or activating mutations in the G1-specific cyclin dependent kinase 4 gene (CDK4). Uveal malignant melanoma (UMM) also occurs in a familial setting, or sometimes in association with familial or sporadic CMM. Molecular studies of sporadic UMM have revealed somatic deletions covering the INK4A-ARF locus (encoding P16INK4Aand P14ARF) in a large proportion of tumours. We hypothesized that germline mutations in the p16INK4A, p14ARFor CDK4 genes might contribute to some cases of familial UMM, or to some cases of UMM associated with another melanoma. Out of 155 patients treated at the Institut Curie for UMM between 1994 and 1997, and interviewed about their personal and familial history of melanoma, we identified seven patients with a relative affected with UMM (n = 6) or CMM (n = 1), and two patients who have had, in addition to UMM, a personal history of second melanoma, UMM (n = 1), or CMM (n = 1). We screened by polymerase chain reaction single-strand conformation polymorphism the entire coding sequence of the INK4A-ARF locus (exon 1α from p16INK4A, exon 1β from p14ARF, and exons 2 and 3, common to both genes), as well as the exons 2, 5 and 8 of the CDK4 gene, coding for the functional domains involved in p16 and/or cyclin D1 binding. A previously reported polymorphism in exon 3 of the INK4A-ARF locus was found in one patient affected with bilateral UMM, but no germline mutations were detected, either in the p16INK4A, p14ARFor CDK4 genes. Our data support the involvement of other genes in predisposition to uveal melanoma. © 2000 Cancer Research Campaign
PMCID: PMC2374387  PMID: 10732752
uveal melanoma; germline mutation; P16INK4A; P14ARF; cdk4
24.  Selection criteria for genetic assessment of patients with familial melanoma 
Approximately 5% to 10% of melanoma may be hereditary in nature, and about 2% of melanoma can be specifically attributed to pathogenic germline mutations in cyclin-dependent kinase inhibitor 2A (CDKN2A). To appropriately identify the small proportion of patients who benefit most from referral to a genetics specialist for consideration of genetic testing for CDKN2A, we have reviewed available published studies of CDKN2A mutation analysis in cohorts with invasive, cutaneous melanoma and found variability in the rate of CDKN2A mutations based on geography, ethnicity, and the type of study and eligibility criteria used. Except in regions of high melanoma incidence, such as Australia, we found higher rates of CDKN2A positivity in individuals with 3 or more primary invasive melanomas and/or families with at least one invasive melanoma and two or more other diagnoses of invasive melanoma and/or pancreatic cancer among first- or second-degree relatives on the same side of the family. The work summarized in this review should help identify individuals who are appropriate candidates for referral for genetic consultation and possible testing.
PMCID: PMC3307795  PMID: 19751883
CDKN2A; familial; genetic counseling; genetic testing; hereditary; melanoma; p16
25.  Capturing the biological impact of CDKN2A and MC1R genes as an early predisposing event in melanoma and non melanoma skin cancer 
Oncotarget  2013;5(6):1439-1451.
Germline mutations in CDKN2A and/or red hair color variants in MC1R genes are associated with an increased susceptibility to develop cutaneous melanoma or non melanoma skin cancer.
We studied the impact of the CDKN2A germinal mutation p.G101W and MC1R variants on gene expression and transcription profiles associated with skin cancer. To this end we set-up primary skin cell co-cultures from siblings of melanoma prone-families that were later analyzed using the expression array approach.
As a result, we found that 1535 transcripts were deregulated in CDKN2A mutated cells, with over-expression of immunity-related genes (HLA-DPB1, CLEC2B, IFI44, IFI44L, IFI27, IFIT1, IFIT2, SP110 and IFNK) and down-regulation of genes playing a role in the Notch signaling pathway. 3570 transcripts were deregulated in MC1R variant carriers. In particular, genes related to oxidative stress and DNA damage pathways were up-regulated as well as genes associated with neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson’s, Alzheimer and Huntington.
Finally, we observed that the expression signatures indentified in phenotypically normal cells carrying CDKN2A mutations or MC1R variants are maintained in skin cancer tumors (melanoma and squamous cell carcinoma). These results indicate that transcriptome deregulation represents an early event critical for skin cancer development.
PMCID: PMC4039222  PMID: 24742402
Familial Melanoma; CDKN2A; MC1R; gene expression; p16; mutations

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