Four Immune Modulating Genes in Primary Melanoma That Predict Metastatic Potential

Jennifer Erdrich, Kristel Lourdault, Alex Judd, David Kaufman, Ke Wei Gong, Melanie Gainsbury, Nan Deng, Wonwoo Shon, Richard Essner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Introduction: Histologic characteristics cannot adequately predict which patients are at risk of developing metastatic disease after excision of primary cutaneous melanoma. The aim of this study was to identify immunomodulatory genes in primary tumors associated with development of distant metastases. Materials and methods: Thirty-seven patients with primary melanoma underwent surgical excision. RNA was extracted from the primary tumor specimens. cDNA was synthesized and used with Human Gene Expression microarray. Differential expression of 74 immunomodulatory genes was compared between patients who developed distant metastases and those who did not. Results: Six of 37 patients developed distant metastases during the time of the study. Differential expression of microarray data showed upregulation of four immunomodulatory genes in this group. These four genes—c-CBL, CD276, CXCL1, and CXCL2—were all significantly overexpressed in the metastatic group with differential expression fold change of 1.15 (P = 0.01), 1.16 (P = 0.04), 2.51 (P < 0.001), and 1.68 (P < 0.02), respectively. CXCL1 had particularly high predictive value with an area under the curve of 0.80. Multivariate analysis showed only expression of CXCL1 (P = 0.01) remains predictive of distant metastases in melanoma patients. This result was confirmed using quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction. Conclusions: CXCL1, CXCL2, c-CBL, and CD276 are immunomodulatory genes present in primary melanoma that are strongly associated with development of metastatic disease. Identification of their presence, particularly CXCL1, in the primary tumor could be used as a predictor of future risk of metastatic disease and thereby to identify patients who might benefit early from immunotherapy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)682-691
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Surgical Research
StatePublished - Nov 2022


  • Biomarkers
  • Melanoma
  • Metastasis
  • Skin cancers
  • Surgery
  • Tumor microenvironment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery


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