Evidence that STK19 is not an NRAS-dependent melanoma driver

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STK19 was proposed to be a cancer driver, and recent work by Yin et al. (2019) in Cell suggested that the frequently recurring STK19 D89N substitution represents a gain-of-function change, allowing increased phosphorylation of NRAS to enhance melanocyte transformation. Here we show that the STK19 gene has been incorrectly annotated, and that the expressed protein is 110 amino acids shorter than indicated by current databases. The "cancer driving" STK19 D89N substitution is thus outside the coding region. We also fail to detect evidence of the mutation affecting STK19 expression; instead, it is a UV signature mutation, found in the promoter of other genes as well. Furthermore, STK19 is exclusively nuclear and chromatin-associated, while no evidence for it being a kinase was found. The data in this Matters Arising article raise fundamental questions about the recently proposed role for STK19 in melanoma progression via a function as an NRAS kinase, suggested by Yin et al. (2019) in Cell. See also the response by Yin et al. (2020), published in this issue.