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Expert Rev Anticancer Ther. 2006 May;6(5):657-70.

High- and low-penetrance cutaneous melanoma susceptibility genes.

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Department of Dermatology, University of L'Aquila, Coppito 2, 67100 L'Aquila, Italy.


The aim of this review is to report the current understanding of the molecular genetics of melanoma predisposition. To date, two high-penetrance melanoma susceptibility genes, cyclin-dependent kinas inhibitor (CDKN)2A on chromosome 9p21 and cyclin-dependent kinase (CDK4) on 12q13, have been identified. Germline inactivating mutations of the CDKN2A gene are the most common cause of inherited susceptibility to melanoma. Worldwide, a few families have been found to harbor CDK4 mutations. However, predisposing alterations to familial melanoma are still unknown in a large proportion of kindreds. Other melanoma susceptibility loci have been mapped through genome-wide linkage analysis, although the putative causal genes at these loci have yet to be identified. Much ongoing research is being focused on the identification of low-penetrance melanoma susceptibility genes that confer a lower melanoma risk with more frequent variations. Specific variants of the MC1R gene have been demonstrated to confer an increase in melanoma risk. In addition, conflicting data are available on other potential low-penetrance genes encoding proteins involved in pigmentation, cell growth and differentiation, DNA repair or detoxifying of metabolites.

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