Recurrent “driver” mutations at specific loci inBRAF, NRAS, KIT, GNAQ, and GNA11 define clinically relevant molecular subsets of melanoma, but more than 30% are “pan-negative” for these recurrent mutations. We sought to identify additional potential drivers in “pan-negative” melanoma. We identified a novel PAPSS1-BRAF fusion in a “pan-negative” melanoma. Activation of the mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) pathway in cells by ectopic expression of PAPSS1-BRAF was abrogated by mitogen-activated protein kinase kinase (MEK) inhibition but not by BRAF inhibition. NGS data analysis of 51 additional melanomas revealed a second BRAF fusion (TRIM24-BRAF) in a “pan-negative” sample; MAPK signaling induced by TRIM24-BRAF was also MEK inhibitor sensitive. Through mining TCGA skin cutaneous melanoma dataset, we further identified two potential BRAF fusions in another 49 “pan-negative” cases.
Conclusions: BRAF fusions define a new molecular subset of melanoma, potentially comprising 4% to 8% of “pan-negative” cases. Their presence may explain an unexpected clinical response to MEK inhibitor therapy or assist in selecting patients for MEK-directed therapy.”