Email updates

Keep up to date with the latest news and content from Molecular Cancer and BioMed Central.

Open Access Research

Somatic deletion of the NF1 gene in a neurofibromatosis type 1-associated malignant melanoma demonstrated by digital PCR

Albert Rübben1*, Birke Bausch2 and Arjen Nikkels3

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Dermatology, University Hospital RWTH Aachen, Pauwelsstrasse 30, D-52074 Aachen, Germany

2 Department of Nephrology, Albert-Ludwigs-University, Hugstetter Str. 55, D-79106 Freiburg, Germany

3 Department of Dermatopathology, University Medical Center, Sart Tilman, B-4000 Liège, Belgium

For all author emails, please log on.

Molecular Cancer 2006, 5:36  doi:10.1186/1476-4598-5-36

Published: 10 September 2006



Neurofibromatosis type 1 (NF1) is the most common hereditary neurocutaneous disorder and it is associated with an elevated risk for malignant tumors of tissues derived from neural crest cells. The NF1 gene is considered a tumor suppressor gene and inactivation of both copies can be found in NF1-associated benign and malignant tumors. Melanocytes also derive from neural crest cells but melanoma incidence is not markedly elevated in NF1. In this study we could analyze a typical superficial spreading melanoma of a 15-year-old boy with NF1 for loss of heterozygosity (LOH) within the NF1 gene. Neurofibromatosis in this patient was transmitted by the boy's farther who carried the mutation NF1 c. 5546 G/A.


Melanoma cells were isolated from formalin-fixed tissue by liquid coverslip laser microdissection. In order to obtain statistically significant LOH data, digital PCR was performed at the intragenic microsatellite IVS27AC28 with DNA of approx. 3500 melanoma cells. Digital PCR detected 23 paternal alleles and one maternal allele. Statistical analysis by SPRT confirmed significance of the maternal allele loss.


To our knowledge, this is the first molecular evidence of inactivation of both copies of the NF1 gene in a typical superficial spreading melanoma of a patient with NF1. The classical double-hit inactivation of the NF1 gene suggests that the NF1 genetic background promoted melanoma genesis in this patient.