Correlation of novel ALKATI with ALK immunohistochemistry and clinical outcomes in metastatic melanoma

Kabeer K. Shah, Jadee L. Neff, Lori A. Erickson, Rory A. Jackson, Sarah M. Jenkins, Aaron S. Mansfield, Justin C. Moser, Antoneicka L. Harris, John A. Copland, Kevin C. Halling, Thomas J. Flotte

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Aims: Recently, a novel isoform of anaplastic lymphoma kinase, with alternative transcription initiation (ALKATI), has been described in melanoma and is susceptible to targeted ALK-inhibitor therapy. Clinical outcomes of patients with ALKATI mutated melanoma as well as correlation with immunohistochemical (IHC) methods have not yet been described. Methods and results: Clinicopathological characteristics were abstracted for 324 patients with metastatic melanoma (MM). IHC, fluorescence in-situ hybridisation and RNA-based digital molecular analysis assays were performed on archival tissue from 173 stage III and 192 stage IV tumours. ALKATI was identified in 12.7 and 4.8% stage III and IV tumours, respectively. Discrete presentations of the ALKATI are seen: isolated ALKATI (n = 20) and mixed ALKATI (combined ALKATI and ALKWT; n = 7). Isolated ALKWT expression (n = 4) was seen with no ALK fusions. Stage III patients showed improved survival with ALKATI expression compared to those with ALKWT or no expression [5-year survival 80, 95% confidence interval (CI) = 57–100% versus 43%, 95% CI = 34–55%, P = 0.013]. Clinicopathological characteristics were not statistically significant. Strong diffuse cytoplasmic staining of ALK IHC (n = 12) has a sensitivity of 52.2%, specificity 100%, PPV of 100% and NPV of 92.5% of detecting isolated ALKATI. Conclusion: Presence of ALKATI is a good prognostic indicator in MM. ALK IHC and digital molecular analysis can be incorporated into MM evaluation to identify patients with ALKATI for targeted therapy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)601-610
Number of pages10
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 1 2020


  • ALK
  • alternative transcription initiation
  • anaplastic lymphoma kinase
  • immunohistochemistry
  • melanoma

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • Histology


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