Laser capture microdissection provides a novel molecular profile of human primary cutaneous melanoma

Kristina Navrazhina, Sandra Garcet, Samuel C. Williams, Nicholas Gulati, Felix Kiecker, John W. Frew, Hiroshi Mitsui, James G. Krueger

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Melanoma accounts for the majority of skin cancer-related mortality, highlighting the need to better understand melanoma initiation and progression. In-depth molecular analysis of neoplastic melanocytes in whole tissue biopsies may be diluted by inflammatory infiltration, which may obscure gene signatures specific to neoplastic cells. Thus, a method is needed to precisely uncover molecular changes specific to tumor cells from a limited sample of primary melanomas. Here, we performed laser capture microdissection (LCM) and gene expression profiling of patient-derived frozen sections of pigmented lesions and primary cutaneous melanoma. Compared to bulk tissue analysis, analysis of LCM-derived samples identified 9528 additional differentially expressed genes (DEGs) including melanocyte-specific genes like PMEL and TYR, with enriched of pathways related to cell proliferation. LCM methodology also identified potentially targetable kinases specific to melanoma cells that were not detected by bulk tissue analysis. Taken together, our data demonstrate that there are marked differences in gene expression profiles depending on the method of sample isolation. We found that LCM captured higher expression of melanoma-related genes while whole tissue biopsy identified a wider range of inflammatory markers. Taken together, our data demonstrate that LCM is a valid approach to identify melanoma-specific changes using a relatively small amount of primary patient-derived melanoma sample.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)81-89
Number of pages9
JournalPigment Cell and Melanoma Research
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2024


  • laser capture microdissection
  • melanocyte
  • melanoma
  • pigmentation
  • proliferation


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