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Tumour gene expression signature in primary melanoma predicts long-term outcomes

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Jérémie Nsengimana



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY 4.0).


© 2021, The Author(s).Adjuvant systemic therapies are now routinely used following resection of stage III melanoma, however accurate prognostic information is needed to better stratify patients. We use differential expression analyses of primary tumours from 204 RNA-sequenced melanomas within a large adjuvant trial, identifying a 121 metastasis-associated gene signature. This signature strongly associated with progression-free (HR = 1.63, p = 5.24 × 10−5) and overall survival (HR = 1.61, p = 1.67 × 10−4), was validated in 175 regional lymph nodes metastasis as well as two externally ascertained datasets. The machine learning classification models trained using the signature genes performed significantly better in predicting metastases than models trained with clinical covariates (pAUROC = 7.03 × 10−4), or published prognostic signatures (pAUROC < 0.05). The signature score negatively correlated with measures of immune cell infiltration (ρ = −0.75, p < 2.2 × 10−16), with a higher score representing reduced lymphocyte infiltration and a higher 5-year risk of death in stage II melanoma. Our expression signature identifies melanoma patients at higher risk of metastases and warrants further evaluation in adjuvant clinical trials.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Garg M, Couturier D-L, Nsengimana J, Fonseca NA, Wongchenko M, Yan Y, Lauss M, Jonsson GB, Newton-Bishop J, Parkinson C, Middleton MR, Bishop DT, McDonald S, Stefanos N, Tadross J, Vergara IA, Lo S, Newell F, Wilmott JS, Thompson JF, Long GV, Scolyer RA, Corrie P, Adams DJ, Brazma A, Rabbie R

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Nature Communications

Year: 2021

Volume: 12

Issue: 1

Online publication date: 18/02/2021

Acceptance date: 15/01/2021

Date deposited: 08/04/2021

ISSN (electronic): 2041-1723

Publisher: Nature Research


DOI: 10.1038/s41467-021-21207-2


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This work was supported by Cancer Research UK and the Wellcome Trust.