Patients with melanoma metastatic to regional lymph nodes exhibit a range in tumor progression, survival, and treatment. Current approaches to stratify patients with this stage of disease predominantly involve clinical and histological methods. Molecular classification thus far has focused almost exclusively on genetic mutations. In this study, proteomic data from 69 melanoma lymph node metastases and 17 disease free lymph nodes acquired by histology-directed MALDI imaging mass spectrometry were used to classify tumor from control lymph node and to molecularly sub-classify patients with stage III disease. From these data, 12 survival associated protein signals and 3 recurrence associated signals in the acquired mass spectra were combined to generate a multiplex molecular signature to group patients into either poor or favorable groups for recurrence and survival. Proteins represented in the signature include cytochrome c, s100 A6, histone H4, and cleaved forms of thymosin β-4, thymosin β-10, and ubiquitin. In total over 40 protein signals from the tissue were identified.
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