TP63 mutations are frequent in cutaneous melanoma, support UV etiology, but their role in melanomagenesis is unclear

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In contrast to TP53, cancer development is rarely associated with mutations in the TP63 and TP73 genes. Recently, next generation sequencing analysis revealed that TP63 mutations are frequent, specifically in cutaneous melanomas. Cutaneous melanoma represents 4% of skin cancers but it is responsible for 80% of skin cancer related deaths. In the present study, we first determined whether all three members of the P53 family of transcription factors were found mutated in cutaneous melanomas by retrieving all TP53, TP63 and TP73 mutations from cBioPortal (http://www. TP53 and TP63 were frequently mutated [15.0% (91/605) and 14.7% (89/605), respectively], while TP73 [1.5% (9/605)] was more rarely mutated (p<0.0001). A UV-mutation fingerprint was recognized for TP63 and TP73 genes. Then, we tried to evaluate the potential role of TP63 mutations as drivers or passengers in the tumorigenic process. In the former case, the amino acid substitutions should cause significant functional consequences on the main biochemical activity of the P63 protein, namely transactivation. The predicted effects of specific amino acid substitutions by two bioinformatics tools were rather different. Using a yeast-based functional assay, the observed hotspot mutant R379CP63 protein exhibited a substantial residual activity compared to the wild-Type (>70%). This result does not support a major role of the mutant P63 protein in melanomagenesis while it is still consistent with the TP63 gene being a recorder of UV exposure. The TP63 mutation spectrum from cutaneous melanomas, when compared with that observed at the germinal level in patients affected by P63-Associated diseases [ectodermal dysplasia syndromes, (EDs)], revealed significant differences. The TP63 mutations were more frequent at CpGs sites (p<0.0001) in EDs and at PyPy sites (p<0.0001) in cutaneous melanomas. The two spectra differed significantly (p<0.0001). We conclude that TP63 mutations are frequent in cutaneous melanoma, support UV etiology, but their role in melanomagenesis is unclear.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1985-1994
Number of pages10
JournalOncology Reports
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Oct 1 2017



  • Cutaneous melanomas
  • Functional analysis
  • Mutations
  • TP63
  • Yeast assay

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research

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