A Preclinical Model of Malignant Peripheral Nerve Sheath Tumor-like Melanoma Is Characterized by Infiltrating Mast Cells

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Human melanomas exhibit considerable genetic, pathologic, and microenvironmental heterogeneity. Genetically engineered mice have successfully been used to model the genomic aberrations contributing to melanoma pathogenesis, but their ability to recapitulate the phenotypic variability of human disease and the complex interactions with the immune system have not been addressed. Here, we report the unexpected finding that immune cell-poor pigmented and immune cell-rich amelanotic melanomas developed simultaneously in Cdk4R24C-mutant mice upon melanocyte-specific conditional activation of oncogenic BrafV600E and a single application of the carcinogen 7,12-dimethylbenz(a) anthracene. Interestingly, amelanotic melanomas showed morphologic and molecular features of malignant peripheral nerve sheath tumors (MPNST). A bioinformatic cross-species comparison using a gene expression signature of MPNST-like mouse melanomas identified a subset of human melanomas with a similar histomorphology. Furthermore, this subset of human melanomas was found to be highly associated with a mast cell gene signature, and accordingly, mouse MPNST-like melanomas were also extensively infiltrated by mast cells and expressed mast cell chemoattractants similar to human counterparts. A transplantable mouse MPNST-like melanoma cell line recapitulated mast cell recruitment in syngeneic mice, demonstrating that this cell state can directly reconstitute the histomorphologic and microenvironmental features of primary MPNST-like melanomas. Our study emphasizes the importance of reciprocal, phenotype-dependent melanoma-immune cell interactions and highlights a critical role for mast cells in a subset of melanomas. Moreover, our BrafV600E-Cdk4R24C model represents an attractive system for the development of therapeutic approaches that can target the heterogeneous tumor microenvironment characteristic of human melanomas. (C) 2015 AACR.


  • Michael Hoelzel
  • Jennifer Landsberg
  • Nicole Glodde
  • Tobias Bald
  • Meri Rogava
  • Stefanie Riesenberg
  • Albert Becker
  • Göran B Jönsson
  • Thomas Tueting
External organisations
  • University of Bonn
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Cancer and Oncology
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)251-263
JournalCancer Research
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2016
Publication categoryResearch