Integrative Genomic Analyses of Patient-Matched Intracranial and Extracranial Metastases Reveal a Novel Brain-Specific Landscape of Genetic Variants in Driver Genes of Malignant Melanoma

Background: Development of brain metastases in advanced melanoma patients is a frequent event that limits patients' quality of life and survival. Despite recent insights into melanoma genetics, systematic analyses of genetic alterations in melanoma brain metastasis formation are lacking. Moreover, whether brain metastases harbor distinct genetic alterations beyond those observed at different anatomic sites of the same patient remains unknown.

Experimental design and results: In our study, 54 intracranial and 18 corresponding extracranial melanoma metastases were analyzed for mutations using targeted next generation sequencing of 29 recurrently mutated driver genes in melanoma. In 11 of 16 paired samples, we detected nucleotide modifications in brain metastases that were absent in matched metastases at extracranial sites. Moreover, we identified novel genetic variants in ARID1A, ARID2, SMARCA4 and BAP1, genes that have not been linked to brain metastases before; albeit most frequent mutations were found in ARID1A, ARID2 and BRAF. Conclusion: Our data provide new insights into the genetic landscape of intracranial melanoma metastases supporting a branched evolution model of metastasis formation.

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