Adult high-grade B-cell lymphoma with Burkitt lymphoma signature: genomic features and potential therapeutic targets

Alyssa Bouska, Chengfeng Bi, Waseem Lone, Weiwei Zhang, Ambreen Kedwaii, Tayla Heavican, Cynthia M. Lachel, Jiayu Yu, Roberto Ferro, Nanees Eldorghamy, Timothy C. Greiner, Julie Vose, Dennis D. Weisenburger, Randy D. Gascoyne, Andreas Rosenwald, German Ott, Elias Campo, Lisa M. Rimsza, Elaine S. Jaffe, Rita M. Braziel, Reiner Siebert, Rodney R. Miles, Sandeep Dave, Anupama Reddy, Jan Delabie, Louis M. Staudt, Joo Y. Song, Timothy W. McKeithan, Kai Fu, Michael Green, Wing C. Chan and Javeed Iqbal

Key Points

  • Adult-mBLs have distinct and more frequent DNA copy number abnormalities compared with pediatric-mBL.

  • Comprehensive genomic analysis revealed that the BCR signaling pathway is a potential therapeutic target in adult-mBL.

Publisher's Note: There is an Inside Blood Commentary on this article in this issue.


The adult high-grade B-cell lymphomas sharing molecular features with Burkitt lymphoma (BL) are highly aggressive lymphomas with poor clinical outcome. High-resolution structural and functional genomic analysis of adult Burkitt lymphoma (BL) and high-grade B-cell lymphoma with BL gene signature (adult-molecularly defined BL [mBL]) revealed the MYC-ARF-p53 axis as the primary deregulated pathway. Adult-mBL had either unique or more frequent genomic aberrations (del13q14, del17p, gain8q24, and gain18q21) compared with pediatric-mBL, but shared commonly mutated genes. Mutations in genes promoting the tonic B-cell receptor (BCR)→PI3K pathway (TCF3 and ID3) did not differ by age, whereas effectors of chronic BCR→NF-κB signaling were associated with adult-mBL. A subset of adult-mBL had BCL2 translocation and mutation and elevated BCL2 mRNA and protein expression, but had a mutation profile similar to mBL. These double-hit lymphomas may have arisen from a tumor precursor that acquired both BCL2 and MYC translocations and/or KMT2D (MLL2) mutation. Gain/amplification of MIR17HG and its paralogue loci was observed in 50% of adult-mBL. In vitro studies suggested miR-17∼92’s role in constitutive activation of BCR signaling and sensitivity to ibrutinib. Overall integrative analysis identified an interrelated gene network affected by copy number and mutation, leading to disruption of the p53 pathway and the BCR→PI3K or NF-κB activation, which can be further exploited in vivo by small-molecule inhibitors for effective therapy in adult-mBL.

  • Submitted February 8, 2017.
  • Accepted July 22, 2017.
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