147 Scopus citations


The protein encoded by the microphthalmia (mi) gene is a transcription factor essential for the development and survival of melanocytes. Using a monoclonal antibody generated against human Mi transcription factor protein (Mitf) the authors previously demonstrated that Mitf expression is conserved in primary and metastatic malignant melanomas, and appears to be a highly sensitive and specific melanocytic marker. Mitf expression in various cutaneous nevi and cutaneous nonmelanocytic tumors has not been documented systematically. The authors evaluated Mitf immunostaining in 62 benign nevi, 58 primary cutaneous melanomas, and 53 nonmelanocytic tumors. Mitf immunostaining was conserved in all benign nevi, with Spitz nevi and neurotized nevi demonstrating decreased staining intensity. With the exception of desmoplastic melanomas, all primary cutaneous melanomas were immunopositive regardless of the cell type. Only one of 14 desmoplastic melanomas was Mitf positive. None of the nonmelanocytic tumors was immunopositive, including those lesions that may resemble melanoma histologically (spindle cell carcinomas, atypical fibroxanthomas, and leiomyosarcomas). The results demonstrate that Mitf antibody expression is conserved in the majority of benign and malignant melanocytic lesions, and that it may be helpful in the diagnosis of primary melanocytic skin lesions. Its use in desmoplastic melanomas is limited and is reflective of other melanocyte-associated antigens. Mitf discriminates between spindle cell nonmelanocytic tumors and melanomas with a spindle cell morphology, and is useful in a panel with other appropriate antibodies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)51-57
Number of pages7
JournalAmerican Journal of Surgical Pathology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2 2001


  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Melanocytic lesions
  • Melanoma
  • Microphthalmia gene
  • Mitf antibody


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