Nature Communications

Integrative molecular and clinical profiling of acral melanoma links focal amplification of 22q11.21 to metastasis

Download paper


Acral melanoma, the most common melanoma subtype among non-White individuals, is associated with poor prognosis. However, its key molecular drivers remain obscure. Here, we perform integrative genomic and clinical profiling of acral melanomas from 104 patients treated in North America (n = 37) or China (n = 67). We find that recurrent, late-arising focal amplifications of cytoband 22q11.21 are a leading determinant of inferior survival, strongly associated with metastasis, and linked to downregulation of immunomodulatory genes associated with response to immune checkpoint blockade. Unexpectedly, LZTR1 – a known tumor suppressor in other cancers – is a key candidate oncogene in this cytoband. Silencing of LZTR1 in melanoma cell lines causes apoptotic cell death independent of major hotspot mutations or melanoma subtypes. Conversely, overexpression of LZTR1 in normal human melanocytes initiates processes associated with metastasis, including anchorage-independent growth, formation of spheroids, and an increase in MAPK and SRC activities. Our results provide insights into the etiology of acral melanoma and implicate LZTR1 as a key tumor promoter and therapeutic target.