Rearrangements of chromosome band 9p24 are known to be associated with JAK2 fusion genes, e.g., t(8;9)(p22;p24) with a PCM1-JAK2 and t(9;22)(p24;q11) with a BCR-JAK2 fusion gene, respectively. In association with myeloid neoplasms, the clinical course is aggressive, and in absence of effective conventional treatment options, long-term remission is usually only observed after allogeneic stem cell transplantation (ASCT). With the discovery of inhibitors of the JAK2 tyrosine kinase and based on encouraging in vitro and in vivo data, we treated two male patients with myeloid neoplasms and a PCM1-JAK2 or a BCR-JAK2 fusion gene, respectively, with the JAK1/JAK2 inhibitor ruxolitinib. After 12 months of treatment, both patients achieved a complete clinical, hematologic, and cytogenetic response. Non-hematologic toxicity was only grade 1 while no hematologic toxicity was observed. However, remission in both patients was only short-term, with relapse occurring after 18 and 24 months, respectively, making ASCT indispensable in both cases. This data highlight (1) the ongoing importance of cytogenetic analysis for the diagnostic work-up of myeloid neoplasms as it may guide targeted therapy and (2) remission under ruxolitinib may only be short-termed in JAK2 fusion genes but it may be an important bridging therapy prior to ASCT.
Incidence and mortality for sex-unspecific cancers are higher among men, a fact that is largely unexplained. Furthermore, age-related loss of chromosome Y (LOY) is frequent in normal hematopoietic cells, but the phenotypic consequences of LOY have been elusive. From analysis of 1,153 elderly men, we report that LOY in peripheral blood was associated with risks of all-cause mortality (hazards ratio (HR) = 1.91, 95% confidence interval (CI) = 1.17-3.13; 637 events) and non-hematological cancer mortality (HR = 3.62, 95% CI = 1.56-8.41; 132 events). LOY affected at least 8.2% of the subjects in this cohort, and median survival times among men with LOY were 5.5 years shorter. Association of LOY with risk of all-cause mortality was validated in an independent cohort (HR = 3.66) in which 20.5% of subjects showed LOY. These results illustrate the impact of post-zygotic mosaicism on disease risk, could explain why males are more frequently affected by cancer and suggest that chromosome Y is important in processes beyond sex determination. LOY in blood could become a predictive biomarker of male carcinogenesis.
Two megalencephaly (MEG) syndromes, megalencephaly-capillary malformation (MCAP) and megalencephaly-polymicrogyriapolydactyly-hydrocephalus (MPPH), have recently been defined on the basis of physical and neuroimaging features. Subsequently, exome sequencing of ten MEG cases identified de-novo postzygotic mutations in PIK3CA which cause MCAP and de-novo mutations in AKT and PIK3R2 which cause MPPH. Here we present findings from exome sequencing three unrelated megalencephaly patients which identified a causal PIK3CA mutation in two cases and a causal PIK3R2 mutation in the third case. However, our patient with the PIK3R2 mutation which is considered to cause MPPH has a marked bifrontal band heterotopia which is a feature of MCAP. Furthermore, one of our patients with a PIK3CA mutation lacks syndactyly/polydactyly which is a characteristic of MCAP. These findings suggest that the overlap between MCAP and MPPH may be greater than the available studies suggest. In addition, the PIK3CA mutation in one of our patients could not be detected using standard exome analysis because the mutation was observed at a low frequency consistent with somatic mosaicism. We have therefore investigated several alternative methods of exome analysis and demonstrate that alteration of the initial allele frequency spectrum (AFS), used as a prior for variant calling in samtools, had the greatest power to detect variants with low mutant allele frequencies in our 3 MEG exomes and in simulated data. We therefore recommend non-default settings of the AFS in combination with stringent quality control when searching for causal mutation(s) that could have low levels of mutant reads due to post-zygotic mutation.
The association between somatic JAK2 mutation and myeloproliferative neoplasms (MPNs) is now well established. However, because JAK2 mutations are associated with heterogeneous clinical phenotypes and often occur as secondary genetic events, some aspects of JAK2 mutation biology remain to be understood. We recently described a germline JAK2V617I mutation in a family with hereditary thrombocytosis and herein characterize the hematopoietic and signaling impact of JAK2V617I. Through targeted sequencing of MPN-associated mutations, exome sequencing, and clonality analysis, we demonstrate that JAK2V617I is likely to be the sole driver mutation in JAK2V617I-positive individuals with thrombocytosis. Phenotypic hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) were increased in the blood and bone marrow of JAK2V617I-positive individuals and were sustained at higher levels than controls after xenotransplantation. In signaling and transcriptional assays, JAK2V617I demonstrated more activity than wild-type JAK2 but substantially less than JAK2V617F. After cytokine stimulation, JAK2V617I resulted in markedly increased downstream signaling compared with wild-type JAK2 and comparable with JAK2V617F. These findings demonstrate that JAK2V617I induces sufficient cytokine hyperresponsiveness in the absence of other molecular events to induce a homogeneous MPN-like phenotype. We also provide evidence that the JAK2V617I mutation may expand the HSC pool, providing insights into both JAK2 mutation biology and MPN disease pathogenesis.
Fusion genes involving the catalytic domain of tyrosine kinases (TKs) play an important role in the pathogenesis of hematological malignancies and solid tumors. In BCR-ABL1-negative myeloproliferative neoplasms (MPNs) several different tyrosine kinase fusion events have been described, most commonly involving the genes encoding the platelet-derived growth factor receptor alpha (PDGFRA) or beta (PDGFRB). Since the introduction of small molecule kinase inhibitors, TK fusions have emerged as prime therapeutic targets. Here, we report a recurrent CEP85L-PDGFRB fusion in a patient with eosinophilia and an MPN. The fusion was confirmed by specific amplification of the genomic breakpoints and reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (PCR). The patient was treated with imatinib and achieved hematologic and cytogenetic remission. Minimal residual disease screening over 3 years with nested PCR failed to detect CEP85L-PDGFRB mRNA or genomic DNA, confirming a long-term molecular remission on imatinib.
The polycomb repressive complex 2 (PRC2) is a highly conserved histone H3 lysine 27 methyltransferase that regulates the expression of developmental genes. Inactivating mutations of the catalytic component of PRC2, EZH2, are seen in myeloid disorders. We reasoned that the other 2 core PRC2 components, SUZ12 and EED, may also be mutational targets in these diseases, as well as associated factors such as JARID2. SUZ12 mutations were identified in 1 of 2 patients with myelodysplastic syndrome/myeloproliferative neoplasms with 17q acquired uniparental disomy and in 2 of 2 myelofibrosis cases with focal 17q11 deletions. All 3 were missense mutations affecting the highly conserved VEFS domain. Analysis of a further 146 myelodysplastic syndrome/myeloproliferative neoplasm patients revealed an additional VEFS domain mutant, yielding a total mutation frequency of 1.4% (2 of 148). We did not find mutations of JARID2 or EED in association with acquired uniparental disomy for chromosome 6p or 11q, respectively; however, screening unselected cases identified missense mutations in EED (1 of 148; 1%) and JARID2 (3 of 148; 2%). All 3 SUZ12 mutations tested and the EED mutation reduced PRC2 histone methyltransferase activity in vitro, demonstrating that PRC2 function may be compromised in myeloid disorders by mutation of distinct genes.
The timing and developmental sequence of events for BCR-ABL1(+) acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL), usually associated with IKAROS (IKZF1) deletions, are unknown. We assessed the status of BCR-ABL1 and IKZF1 genes in 2 pairs of monozygotic twins, one pair concordant, the other discordant for Philadelphia chromosome positive (Ph(+)) ALL. The twin pair concordant for ALL shared identical BCR-ABL1 genomic sequence indicative of monoclonal, in utero origin. One twin had IKZF1 deletion and died after transplantation. The other twin had hyperdiploidy, no IKZF1 deletion, and is still in remission 8 years after transplantation. In the twin pair discordant for ALL, neonatal blood spots from both twins harbored the same clonotypic BCR-ABL1 sequence. Low level BCR-ABL1(+) cells were present in the healthy co-twin but lacked the IKZF1 deletion present in the other twins leukemic cells. The twin with ALL relapsed and died after transplantation. The co-twin remains healthy and leukemia free. These data show that in childhood Ph(+) ALL, BCR-ABL1 gene fusion can be a prenatal and possibly initiating genetic event. In the absence of additional, secondary changes, the leukemic clone remains clinically silent. IKZF1 is a secondary and probable postnatal mutation in these cases, and as a recurrent but alternative copy number change is associated with poor prognosis.
We genotyped 370 subjects with primary myelofibrosis (PMF) and 148 with postpolycythemia vera/postessential thrombocythemia (PPV/PET) MF for mutations of EZH2. Mutational status at diagnosis was correlated with hematologic parameters, clinical manifestations, and outcome. A total of 25 different EZH2 mutations were detected in 5.9% of PMF, 1.2% of PPV-MF, and 9.4% of PET-MF patients; most were exonic heterozygous missense changes. EZH2 mutation coexisted with JAK2V617F or ASXL1 mutation in 12 of 29 (41.4%) and 6 of 27 (22.2%) evaluated patients; TET2 and CBL mutations were found in 2 and 1 patients, respectively. EZH2-mutated PMF patients had significantly higher leukocyte counts, blast-cell counts, and larger spleens at diagnosis, and most of them (52.6%) were in the high-risk International Prognostic Score System (IPSS) category. After a median follow-up of 39 months, 128 patients (25.9%) died, 81 (63.3%) because of leukemia. Leukemia-free survival (LFS) and overall survival (OS) were significantly reduced in EZH2-mutated PMF patients (P = .028 and P < .001, respectively); no such impact was seen for PPV/PET-MF patients, possibly due to the low number of mutated cases. In multivariate analysis, survival of PMF patients was predicted by IPSS high-risk category, a < 25% JAK2V617F allele burden, and EZH2 mutation status. We conclude that EZH2 mutations are independently associated with shorter survival in patients with PMF.
Imatinib-resistant tyrosine kinase (TK) fusions involving FGFR1, JAK2, or FLT3 are rare but recurrent in patients with eosinophilia-associated neoplasms. We report here 2 male patients with ETV6-FLT3(+) myeloid/lymphoid neoplasms with eosinophilia who were treated with the multitargeted TK inhibitors sunitinib and sorafenib. Patient 1 achieved rapid complete hematologic response and complete cytogenetic response after 3 months of taking sunitinib. A secondary blast phase caused by clonal evolution was diagnosed after 6 months. He achieved a second complete hematologic response after taking sorafenib but relapsed 2 months later. An N841K point mutation within the TK domain of FLT3, previously reported in acute myeloid leukemia and potentially conferring resistance to sorafenib, was subsequently identified. Patient 2 was heavily pretreated according to the initial diagnosis of T-lymphoblastic lymphoma and died in sunitinib-induced pancytopenia. This report highlights the importance of a careful diagnostic workup for eosinophilia-associated neoplasms to evaluate the possibility of TK inhibitor therapy.
We have identified two novel ABL1 fusion genes in two patients with B-cell acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (ALL) associated with a t(3;9)(p12;q34) and a t(5;9)(q23;q34), respectively. Molecular analysis revealed a FOXP1-ABL1 fusion for the t(3;9) and a SNX2-ABL1 fusion for the t(5;9). The fusions were confirmed by specific amplification of the genomic breakpoints using reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction. The identification of ALL with rare ABL1 fusion partners is important because the leukaemia may respond to tyrosine kinase inhibitors in the same way as ALL patients with a classical BCR-ABL1 fusion gene.
It is not clear if absence of BCR-ABL transcripts--complete molecular response (CMR)--is synonymous with, or required for, cure of chronic myeloid leukemia (CML). Some patients achieve CMR with imatinib (IM), but most relapse shortly after treatment discontinuation. Furthermore, most patients in long-term remission (LTR) post-stem cell transplantation (SCT) are considered functionally cured, although some remain occasionally positive for low-level BCR-ABL mRNA. Interpretation of the latter is complicated because it has been observed in healthy subjects. We designed a patient-specific, highly sensitive, DNA quantitative polymerase chain reaction to test follow-up samples for the original leukemic clone, identified by its unique genomic BCR-ABL fusion (gBCR-ABL). In 5 IM-treated patients in CMR, gBCR-ABL was detected in transcript-negative samples; 4 patients became gBCR-ABL-negative with continuing IM therapy. In contrast, of 9 patients in LTR (13-27 years) post-SCT, gBCR-ABL was detected in only 1, despite occasional transcript-positive samples in 8 of them. In conclusion, in IM-treated patients, absence of transcripts should not be interpreted as absence of the leukemic clone, although continuing IM after achievement of CMR may lead to further reduction of residual disease. Post-SCT, we found little evidence that the transcripts occasionally detected originate from the leukemic clone.
Aberrant activation of tyrosine kinases, caused by either mutation or gene fusion, is of major importance for the development of many hematologic malignancies, particularly myeloproliferative neoplasms. We hypothesized that hitherto unrecognized, cytogenetically cryptic tyrosine kinase fusions may be common in non-classical or atypical myeloproliferative neoplasms and related myelodysplastic/myeloproliferative neoplasms.
Rapid identification of diverse fusion genes with involvement of PDGFRA or PDGFRB in eosinophilia-associated myeloproliferative neoplasms is essential for adequate clinical management but is complicated by the multitude and heterogeneity of partner genes and breakpoints.
Abnormalities of chromosome 7q are common in myeloid malignancies, but no specific target genes have yet been identified. Here, we describe the finding of homozygous EZH2 mutations in 9 of 12 individuals with 7q acquired uniparental disomy. Screening of a total of 614 individuals with myeloid disorders revealed 49 monoallelic or biallelic EZH2 mutations in 42 individuals; the mutations were found most commonly in those with myelodysplastic/myeloproliferative neoplasms (27 out of 219 individuals, or 12%) and in those with myelofibrosis (4 out of 30 individuals, or 13%). EZH2 encodes the catalytic subunit of the polycomb repressive complex 2 (PRC2), a highly conserved histone H3 lysine 27 (H3K27) methyltransferase that influences stem cell renewal by epigenetic repression of genes involved in cell fate decisions. EZH2 has oncogenic activity, and its overexpression has previously been causally linked to differentiation blocks in epithelial tumors. Notably, the mutations we identified resulted in premature chain termination or direct abrogation of histone methyltransferase activity, suggesting that EZH2 acts as a tumor suppressor for myeloid malignancies.
Rare cases of possible materno-fetal transmission of cancer have been recorded over the past 100 years but evidence for a shared cancer clone has been very limited. We provide genetic evidence for mother to offspring transmission, in utero, of a leukemic cell clone. Maternal and infant cancer clones shared the same unique BCR-ABL1 genomic fusion sequence, indicating a shared, single-cell origin. Microsatellite markers in the infant cancer were all of maternal origin. Additionally, the infant, maternally-derived cancer cells had a major deletion on one copy of chromosome 6p that included deletion of HLA alleles that were not inherited by the infant (i.e., foreign to the infant), suggesting a possible mechanism for immune evasion.
Recent evidence has demonstrated that acquired uniparental disomy (aUPD) is a novel mechanism by which pathogenetic mutations in cancer may be reduced to homozygosity. To help identify novel mutations in myeloproliferative neoplasms (MPNs), we performed a genome-wide single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) screen to identify aUPD in 58 patients with atypical chronic myeloid leukemia (aCML; n = 30), JAK2 mutation-negative myelofibrosis (MF; n = 18), or JAK2 mutation-negative polycythemia vera (PV; n = 10). Stretches of homozygous, copy neutral SNP calls greater than 20Mb were seen in 10 (33%) aCML and 1 (6%) MF, but were absent in PV. In total, 7 different chromosomes were involved with 7q and 11q each affected in 10% of aCML cases. CBL mutations were identified in all 3 cases with 11q aUPD and analysis of 574 additional MPNs revealed a total of 27 CBL variants in 26 patients with aCML, myelofibrosis or chronic myelomonocytic leukemia. Most variants were missense substitutions in the RING or linker domains that abrogated CBL ubiquitin ligase activity and conferred a proliferative advantage to 32D cells overexpressing FLT3. We conclude that acquired, transforming CBL mutations are a novel and widespread pathogenetic abnormality in morphologically related, clinically aggressive MPNs.
The finding of somatically acquired uniparental disomy, where both copies of a chromosome pair or parts of chromosomes have originated from one parent, has led to the discovery of several novel mutated genes in myeloproliferative neoplasms and related disorders. This article examines how the development of single nucleotide polymorphism array technology has facilitated the identification of regions of acquired uniparental disomy and has led to a much greater understanding of the molecular pathology of these heterogeneous diseases.
JAK2 fusion genes are rare but recurrent abnormalities associated with diverse, clinically heterogeneous hematologic malignancies. Here we assess the JAK1/2 inhibitor ruxolitinib as therapy for patients with JAK2-rearrangement associated myeloproliferative neoplasms (MPN). Ruxolitinib-treated Ba/F3 cells transformed to IL3 independence by ETV6-JAK2 showed reduced proliferation and survival (IC(50) = 370 nM) compared with KG1A or Ba/F3 cells transformed by BCR-ABL1, SPBN1-FLT3 and ZMYM2-FGFR1 (IC(50) > 10 ?M for all). Inhibition was associated with reduced phosphorylation of ETV6-JAK2, ERK, STAT5 and AKT. Primary cell growth from 2 patients with JAK2 rearrangement and one patient with JAK2 amplification was assessed in methylcellulose assays. Reduced colony growth was seen for all patients in ruxolitinib-treated cultures compared with healthy controls (n=7). Fluorescence in situ hybridization showed reduced growth of JAK2-rearrangement positive colonies compared to JAK2-rearrangement negative colonies. Our data, therefore, provide evidence that ruxolitinib is a promising therapy for treatment of patients with JAK2 fusion genes.
The 8p11 myeloproliferative syndrome is a rare, aggressive myeloproliferative neoplasm characterized by constitutively active FGFR1 fusion proteins that arise from specific chromosomal translocations and which drive aberrant proliferation. Although FGFR1 inhibitors have shown in vitro activity against FGFR1 fusions, none are in use clinically and there is a need to assess additional compounds as potential therapy. Here we use cell lines and primary cells to investigate ponatinib (AP24534). Ponatinib-treated Ba/F3 cells transformed by ZMYM2-FGFR1 and BCR-FGFR1 and the FGFR1OP2-FGFR1 positive KG1A cell line showed reduced proliferation and decreased survival when compared to control cells. Inhibition induced apoptosis and reduced phosphorylation of the FGFR1 fusion proteins and substrates. Ponatinib-treated cells from 8p11 myeloproliferative syndrome patients (n=5) showed reduced colony growth compared to controls. In one evaluable patient, ponatinib specifically reduced numbers of FGFR1-fusion gene positive colonies. Ponatinib, therefore, shows considerable promise for the treatment of patients with 8p11 myeloproliferative syndrome.
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