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Associations of MC1R with BRAF mutations in melanoma have been inconsistent between studies. We sought to determine for 1,227 participants in the international population-based Genes, Environment, and Melanoma (GEM) study whether MC1R and phenotypes were associated with melanoma BRAF/NRAS subtypes. We used logistic regression adjusted by age, sex, and study design features and examined effect modifications. BRAF+ were associated with younger age, blond/light brown hair, increased nevi, and less freckling, and NRAS+ with older age relative to the wild type (BRAF-/NRAS-) melanomas (all P < 0.05). Comparing specific BRAF subtypes to the wild type, BRAF V600E was associated with younger age, blond/light brown hair, and increased nevi and V600K with increased nevi and less freckling (all P < 0.05). MC1R was positively associated with BRAF V600E cases but only among individuals with darker phototypes or darker hair (Pinteraction < 0.05) but inversely associated with BRAF V600K (Ptrend = 0.006) with no significant effect modification by phenotypes. These results support distinct etiologies for BRAF V600E, BRAF V600K, NRAS+, and wild-type melanomas. MC1R's associations with BRAF V600E cases limited to individuals with darker phenotypes indicate that MC1R genotypes specifically provide information about BRAF V600E melanoma risk in those not considered high risk based on phenotype. Our results also suggest that melanin pathways deserve further study in BRAF V600E melanomagenesis.

Original publication




Journal article


The Journal of investigative dermatology

Publication Date





2588 - 2598


Department of Dermatology, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, North Carolina, USA; Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, North Carolina, USA. Electronic address:


GEM Study Group, Humans, Melanoma, Skin Neoplasms, GTP Phosphohydrolases, Proto-Oncogene Proteins B-raf, Membrane Proteins, Receptor, Melanocortin, Type 1, Genotype, Phenotype, Mutation, Adult, Aged, Middle Aged, United States, Australia, Female, Male