Approximately 10% of patients with chronic lymphocytic leukaemia (CLL) have a family history of the disease or a related lymphoproliferative disorder, yet the relationship of familial CLL to genomic abnormalities has not been characterized in detail. We therefore studied 75 CLL patients, half familial and half sporadic, using high-resolution array comparative genomic hybridization (CGH), in order to better define the relationship of genomic abnormalities to familial disease and other biological prognostic factors. Our results showed that the most common high-risk deletion in CLL, deletion 11q, was significantly associated with sporadic disease. Comparison of familial to sporadic disease additionally identified a copy number variant region near the centromere on 14q, proximal to IGH@, in which gains were associated both with familial CLL, and with mutated IGHV and homozygous deletion of 13q. Homozygous deletion of 13q was also found to be associated with mutated IGHV and low expression of ZAP-70, and a significantly longer time to first treatment compared to heterozygous deletion or lack of alteration. This study is the first high resolution effort to investigate and report somatic genetic differences between familial and sporadic CLL.
CLL; familial; deletion 11q
ROR1 is a receptor tyrosine kinase expressed during embryogenesis, on chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) and in other malignancies. Hematogones (non-neoplastic B-lymphocyte precursors) express surface ROR1 at an intermediate stage of maturation that lacks CD34 or TdT. The neoplastic counterpart to hematogones is precursor-B acute lymphoblastic leukemia (B-ALL), but less than 10% of B-ALL express surface ROR1, and these ROR1+ B-ALL cases have an unusually high frequency of lacking CD34 and/or having t(1;19), a chromosomal translocation that defines a specific subtype of B-ALL.
ROR1; Wnt; B-lymphocyte precursors; Hematogones; Acute lymphoblastic leukemia; t(1;19); Chronic lymphocytic leukemia; Flow cytometry
A cost- and time-efficient means to define the prognosis of patients with chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) is desirable but does not yet exist. Based on evidence that CLL cells have enhanced expression of the cyclic nucleotide phosphodiesterase isoform 7B (PDE7B), we hypothesized that PDE7B expression might provide such information. We assessed PDE7B mRNA expression using quantitative real-time PCR (QPCR) in peripheral blood mononuclear cells isolated from 85 patients and 30 normal subjects. We compared PDE7B mRNA expression with that of other disease features to determine if its expression correlates with the prognosis of patients with CLL. We found that CLL patients with PDE7B mRNA levels in the top quartile (>9-fold elevation relative to normal controls) have a several-year shorter median time-to-treatment (TTT, 36 months) compared to that of patients whose CLL cells express lower levels of PDE7B mRNA (TTT, 77 months, P=0.001). High PDE7B mRNA expression correlates with expression of Zeta-chain-associated protein kinase 70 (ZAP-70), unmutated immunoglobulin heavy chain variable (IGHV) region genes and β2 microglobulin (β2M), but use of a multivariate Cox model revealed that high PDE7B mRNA expression independently predicts a short TTT, even after adjusting for several other disease characteristics (ZAP-70 or CD38 expression, IGHV mutation status, Rai status). High expression of PDE7B is an unfavorable characteristic in CLL. Assessment of PDE7B mRNA expression thus appears to be a clinically useful biomarker to define the prognosis of patients with CLL.
cyclic nucleotide phosphodiesterase 7B; chronic lymphocytic leukemia; prognostic factor; quantitative reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction (QPCR)
Cytogenetic abnormalities in CLL are important prognostic indicators. Historically, only interphase cytogenetics was clinically useful in CLL because traditional mitogens are not effective mitotic stimulants. Recently, CpG-oligodeoxynucleotide (ODN) stimulation has shown effectiveness in CLL. The CLL Research Consortium (CRC) tested the effectiveness and reproducibility of CpG-ODN stimulation to detect chromosomally abnormal clones by five laboratories. More clonal abnormalities were observed after culture of CLL cells with CpG-ODN than with pokeweed mitogen (PWM)+12-O-tetradecanoyl-phorobol-13-acetate (TPA). All clonal abnormalities in PWM+TPA cultures were observed in CpG-ODN cultures, whereas CpG-ODN identified some clones not found by PWM+TPA. CpG-ODN stimulation of one normal control and 12 CLL samples showed that excepting clones of del(13q) in low frequencies and one translocation, results in all five laboratories were consistent, and all abnormalities were concordant with FISH. Thus, abnormal clones in CLL are more readily detected with CpG-ODN stimulation than with traditional B-cell mitogens. After CpG-ODN stimulation, abnormalities were reproducible among cytogenetic laboratories. CpG-ODN did not appear to induce aberrations in cell culture and enhanced detection of abnormalities and complexity in CLL. Since karyotypic complexity is prognostic and is not detectable by standard FISH analyses, stimulation with CpG-ODN is useful to identify this additional prognostic factor in CLL.
Cancer is a genetic disease in which the interplay between alterations in protein-coding genes and non-coding RNAs (ncRNAs) plays a fundamental role. In recent years, the full coding component of the human genome was sequenced in various cancers, whereas such attempts related to ncRNAs are still fragmentary. We screened genomic DNAs for sequence variations in 148 microRNAs (miRNAs) and ultraconserved regions (UCRs) loci in patients with chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) or colorectal cancer (CRC) by Sanger technique and further tried to elucidate the functional consequences of some of these variations. We found sequence variations in miRNAs in both sporadic and familial CLL cases, mutations of UCRs in CLLs and CRCs and, in certain instances, detected functional effects of these variations. Furthermore, by integrating our data with previously published data on miRNA sequence variations, we have created a catalog of DNA sequence variations in miRNAs/ultraconserved genes in human cancers. These findings argue that ncRNAs are targeted by both germ line and somatic mutations as well as by single-nucleotide polymorphisms with functional significance for human tumorigenesis. Sequence variations in ncRNA loci are frequent and some have functional and biological significance. Such information can be exploited to further investigate on a genome-wide scale the frequency of genetic variations in ncRNAs and their functional meaning, as well as for the development of new diagnostic and prognostic markers for leukemias and carcinomas.
The leukemia cells of unrelated patients with chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) display a restricted repertoire of immunoglobulin (Ig) gene rearrangements with preferential usage of certain Ig gene segments. We developed a computational method to rigorously quantify biases in Ig sequence similarity in large patient databases and to identify groups of patients with unusual levels of sequence similarity. We applied our method to sequences from 1577 CLL patients through the CLL Research Consortium (CRC), and identified 67 similarity groups into which roughly 20% of all patients could be assigned. Immunoglobulin light chain class was highly correlated within all groups and light chain gene usage was similar within sets. Surprisingly, over 40% of the identified groups were composed of somatically mutated genes. This study significantly expands the evidence that antigen selection shapes the Ig repertoire in CLL.
Gene expression profiling has the potential to enhance current methods for the diagnosis of haematological malignancies. Here, we present data on 204 analyses from an international standardization programme that was conducted in 11 laboratories as a prephase to the Microarray Innovations in LEukemia (MILE) study. Each laboratory prepared two cell line samples, together with three replicate leukaemia patient lysates in two distinct stages: (i) a 5-d course of protocol training, and (ii) independent proficiency testing. Unsupervised, supervised, and r2 correlation analyses demonstrated that microarray analysis can be performed with remarkably high intra-laboratory reproducibility and with comparable quality and reliability.
microarray; gene expression profiling; leukaemia; standardization; diagnostics
The most common human leukemia is B cell chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL), a malignancy of mature B cells with a characteristic clinical presentation but a variable clinical course. The rearranged immunoglobulin (Ig) genes of CLL cells may be either germ-line in sequence or somatically mutated. Lack of Ig mutations defined a distinctly worse prognostic group of CLL patients raising the possibility that CLL comprises two distinct diseases. Using genomic-scale gene expression profiling, we show that CLL is characterized by a common gene expression “signature,” irrespective of Ig mutational status, suggesting that CLL cases share a common mechanism of transformation and/or cell of origin. Nonetheless, the expression of hundreds of other genes correlated with the Ig mutational status, including many genes that are modulated in expression during mitogenic B cell receptor signaling. These genes were used to build a CLL subtype predictor that may help in the clinical classification of patients with this disease.
cDNA microarrays; gene expression profiling; leukemia; lymphocytic; chronic
We found that the plasma of patients with active systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) could induce a human B-cell line (Ramos) to express high levels of immune accessory molecules that are commonly found on blood B cells of patients with active SLE. The ability of SLE plasma to induce such phenotypic changes could be abrogated by neutralizing antibodies specific for the CD40 ligand (CD154) but not by antibodies to TNF-α. Immunoprecipitation studies with anti-CD154 identified a 20-kDa protein in the plasma of SLE patients with active disease, but not in plasma of normal donors, indicating that such plasma contained soluble CD154 (sCD154). Using a quantitative ELISA method, we found that the plasma of patients with active disease had levels of sCD154 that were significantly higher than those found in plasma of normal donors. Levels of CD154 transcripts in SLE blood lymphocytes correlated with the relative concentrations of sCD154 found in SLE plasma. Furthermore, plasma levels of sCD154 correlated with the titers of anti–double-stranded DNA autoantibody and with clinical disease activity. These studies indicate that sCD154 of patients with SLE may act as a functional ligand for CD40 that is associated with SLE disease activity.
We determined the immunoglobulin (Ig) VH subgroup expressed by the leukemia cells of 108 patients with B cell chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL). Surprisingly, we found that six samples (5%) each expressed Ig of more than one VH subgroup. Southern blot analysis demonstrated that these samples each had rearrangements involving both Ig heavy chain alleles. Nucleic acid sequence analyses of the Ig cDNA revealed each to express two functional Ig VH genes: VH3-33 and VH4-39; VH3-7 and VH4-39; VH3-23 and VH4-61; VH2-70 and VH3-30.3; or VH3-30 and VH4-b (DP67). One sample expressed three Ig VH genes: VH2-70, VH3-7, and VH4-59. Despite having more than one Ig heavy chain transcript, each sample was found to express only one functional Ig light chain. From the primary sequence, we deduced that the Ig of some of these CLL samples should react with Lc1, a monoclonal antibody (mAb) reactive with a supratypic cross-reactive idiotype present on Ig encoded by a subgroup of Ig VH4 genes (namely, VH4-39, VH4-b [DP-67], VH4-59, or VH4-61), and B6, an mAb that reacts with Ig encoded by certain Ig VH3 genes (namely, VH3-23, VH3-30, or VH3-30.3), and/or modified staphylococcal protein A (SpA), a 45-kilodalton bacterial “superantigen” that reacts with most Ig of the VH3 subgroup. Flow cytometric analyses revealed that such samples did in fact react with Lc1 and B6 and/or SpA, but not with control mAbs of irrelevant specificity. This study demonstrates that a subset of CLL patients have leukemic B cells that express more than one functional Ig heavy chain.
Monoclonal B cell lymphocytosis (MBL) is a hematologic condition wherein small B cell clones can be detected in the blood of asymptomatic individuals. Most MBL have an immunophenotype similar to chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL), and “CLL-like” MBL is a precursor to CLL. We used flow cytometry to identify MBL from unaffected members of CLL kindreds. We identified 101 MBL cases from 622 study subjects; of these, 82 individuals with MBL were further characterized. Ninety-one unique MBL clones were detected: 73 CLL-like MBL (CD5+CD20dimsIgdim), 11 atypical MBL (CD5+CD20+sIg+), and 7 CD5neg MBL (CD5negCD20+sIgneg). Extended immunophenotypic characterization of these MBL subtypes was performed, and significant differences in cell surface expression of CD23, CD49d, CD79b, and FMC-7 were observed among the groups. Markers of risk in CLL such as CD38, ZAP70, and CD49d were infrequently expressed in CLL-like MBL, but were expressed in the majority of atypical MBL. Interphase cytogenetics was performed in 35 MBL cases, and del 13q14 was most common (22/30 CLL-like MBL cases). Gene expression analysis using oligonucleotide arrays was performed on 7 CLL-like MBL, and showed activation of B cell receptor associated pathways. Our findings underscore the diversity of MBL subtypes and further clarify the relationship between MBL and other lymphoproliferative disorders.
Monoclonal B-cell lymphocytosis (MBL) is an asymptomatic haematological condition characterized by low absolute levels of B-cell clones with a surface immunophenotype similar to that of chronic lymphocytic leukaemia (CLL). In the general population, MBL increases with age with a prevalence of 5–9% in individuals over age 60 years. It has been reported to be higher among first-degree relatives from CLL families. We report results of multi-parameter flow cytometry among 505 first-degree relatives with no personal history of lymphoproliferative disease from 140 families having at least two cases of CLL. Seventeen percent of relatives had MBL. Age was the most important determinant where the probability for developing MBL by age 90 years was 61%. MBL clustered in certain families but clustering was independent of the number of known CLL cases in a family. As is the case with CLL, males had a significantly higher risk for MBL than did females (p=0.04). MBL patients had significantly higher mean absolute lymphocyte counts (2.4 × 109/l) and B-cell counts (0.53 × 109/l) than those with a normal B-cell immunophenotype. Our findings show that MBL occurs at a very high rate in high risk CLL families. Both the age and gender distribution of MBL are parallel to CLL, implying a shared inherited risk.
chronic lymphocytic leukaemia; high risk families; monoclonal B-cell lymphocytosis; flow cytometry