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About 50% of all malignant peripheral nerve sheath tumors (MPNSTs) arise as neurofibromatosis type 1 associated lesions. In those patients malignant peripheral nerve sheath tumors are thought to arise through malignant transformation of a preexisting plexiform neurofibroma. The molecular changes associated with this transformation are still poorly understood. We sought to test the hypothesis that dysregulation of expression of kinases contributes to this malignant transformation. We analyzed expression of all 519 kinase genes in the human genome using the nanostring nCounter system. Twelve cases of malignant peripheral nerve sheath tumor arising in a background of preexisting plexiform neurofibroma were included. Both components were separately sampled. Statistical analysis compared global changes in expression levels as well as changes observed in the pairwise comparison of samples taken from the same surgical specimen. Immunohistochemical studies were performed on tissue array slides to confirm expression of selected proteins. The expression pattern of kinase genes can separate malignant peripheral nerve sheath tumors and preexisting plexiform neurofibromas. The majority of kinase genes is downregulated rather than overexpressed with malignant transformation. The patterns of expression changes are complex without simple recurring alteration. Pathway analysis demonstrates that differentially expressed kinases are enriched for kinases involved in the direct regulation of mitosis, and several of these show increased expression in malignant peripheral nerve sheath tumors. Immunohistochemical studies for the mitotic regulators BUB1B, PBK and NEK2 confirm higher expression levels at the protein level. These results suggest that the malignant transformation of plexiform neurofibroma is associated with distinct changes in the expression of kinase genes. The patterns of these changes are complex and heterogeneous. There is no single unifying alteration. Kinases involved in mitotic regulation are particularly enriched in the pool of differentially expressed kinases. Some of these are overexpressed and are therefore possible targets for kinase inhibitors.