Background: A small subset (10–15%) of gastrointestinal stromal tumours (GISTs) lack mutations in KIT and PDGFRA (wild-type GIST). Recently, a novel BRAF exon 15 mutation (V600E) was detected in imatinib-naive wild-type high-risk intestinal GISTs (4%). However, the frequency and distribution of BRAF mutations within the spectrum of GISTs, and whether they might represent secondary events acquired during tumour progression, remain unknown.
Methods: 69 GISTs (39 KIT mutants, 2 PDGFRA mutants and 28 wild-type) were analysed for mutations in BRAF exon 15 and KRAS exon 2. To assess the stage at which these mutations might occur in GIST, a considerable number of incidental gastric (n = 23) and intestinal (n = 2) tumours were included.
Results: BRAF mutations (V600E) were detected in 2 of 28 wild-type GISTs (7%), but in none of the 41 KIT/PDGFRA mutants. No KRAS mutation was detected. The two BRAF-mutated GISTs measured 4 mm in diameter and originated in the gastric body and the jejunum in two men (mean age, 76 years). Both tumours were mitotically inactive KIT-positive spindle-cell GISTs that were indistinguishable histologically from their more common KIT-mutated counterparts.
Conclusion: BRAF mutations represent an alternative molecular pathway in the early tumorigenesis of a subset of KIT/PDGFRA wild-type GISTs and are per se not associated with a high risk of malignancy. Mutations in KIT, PDGFRA and BRAF were mutually exclusive in this study. Results from this and a previous study indicate that BRAF-mutated GISTs show a predilection for the small bowel (four of five tumours), but this needs further evaluation in larger studies.
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Competing interests: None.