1932

Abstract

Merkel cell carcinoma (MCC) is an aggressive neuroendocrine carcinoma of the skin with two distinct etiologies. Clonal integration of Merkel cell polyomavirus DNA into the tumor genome with persistent expression of viral T antigens causes at least 60% of all MCC. UV damage leading to highly mutated genomes causes a nonviral form of MCC. Despite these distinct etiologies, both forms of MCC are similar in presentation, prognosis, and response to therapy. At least three oncogenic transcriptional programs feature prominently in both forms of MCC driven by the virus or by mutation. Both forms of MCC have a high proliferative growth rate with increased levels of cell cycle–dependent genes due to inactivation of the tumor suppressors RB and p53, a strong MYC signature due to MYCL activation by the virus or gene amplification, and an attenuated neuroendocrine differentiation program driven by the ATOH1 transcription factor.

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2021-01-24
2024-06-15
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