Activating PIK3CA mutations coexist with BRAF or NRAS mutations in a limited fraction of melanomas

Antonella Manca, Amelia Lissia, Mariaelena Capone, Paolo A. Ascierto, Gerardo Botti, Corrado Caracò, Ignazio Stanganelli, Maria Colombino, MariaCristina C. Sini, Antonio Cossu, Giuseppe Palmieri

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Activated PI3K-AKT pathway may contribute to decrease sensitivity to inhibitors of key pathogenetic effectors (mutated BRAF, active NRAS or MEK) in melanoma. Functional alterations are deeply involved in PI3K-AKT activation, with a minimal role reported for mutations in PIK3CA, the catalytic subunit of the PI3K gene. We here assessed the prevalence of the coexistence of BRAF/NRAS and PIK3CA mutations in a series of melanoma samples. Methods: A total of 245 tumor specimens (212 primary melanomas and 33 melanoma cell lines) was screened for mutations in BRAF, NRAS, and PIK3CA genes by automated direct sequencing. Results: Overall, 110 (44.9%) samples carried mutations in BRAF, 26 (10.6%) in NRAS, and 24 (9.8%) in PIK3CA. All identified PIK3CA mutations have been reported to induce PI3K activation; those detected in cultured melanomas were investigated for their interference with the antiproliferative activity of the BRAF-mutant inhibitor vemurafenib. A reduced suppression in cell growth was observed in treated cells carrying both BRAF and PIK3CA mutations as compared with those presenting a mutated BRAF only. Among the analysed melanomas, 12/245 (4.9%) samples presented the coexistence of PIK3CA and BRAF/NRAS mutations. Conclusions: Our study further suggests that PIK3CA mutations account for a small fraction of PI3K pathway activation and have a limited impact in interfering with the BRAF/NRAS-driven growth in melanoma.

Original languageEnglish
Article number37
JournalJournal of Translational Medicine
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 28 2015


  • Melanoma
  • Mutation analysis
  • PIK3CA gene
  • Resistance to BRAF/MEK inhibitors

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Medicine(all)


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