Key Points

  • The mutational landscape of GZL in the thymic niche resembles that of EBV-negative cHL and PMBCL, suggesting a shared cell of origin.

  • GZL occurring outside of the thymic niche have a distinct mutational profile with a subset of cases carrying TP53 mutations.

The mutational landscape of grey zone lymphoma (GZL) has not yet been established and differences to related entities are largely unknown. Here, we studied coding sequence mutations of 50 EBV-negative GZL and 20 polymorphic EBV-positive DLBCL NOS (poly-EBV-L) in comparison to classical Hodgkin lymphoma (cHL), primary mediastinal large B cell lymphoma (PMBCL), and diffuse large B cell lymphoma (DLBCL). Exomes of 21 GZL and 7 poly-EBV-L cases along with paired normals were analyzed as a discovery cohort followed by targeted sequencing of 217 genes in an extension cohort of 29 GZL and 13 poly-EBV-L cases. GZL cases with thymic niche involvement (anterior mediastinal mass) displayed a mutation profile closely resembling cHL and PMBCL, with SOCS1 (45%), B2M (45%), TNFAIP3 (35%), GNA13 (35%), LRRN3 (32%) and NFKBIA (29%) being the most recurrently mutated genes. In contrast, GZL cases without thymic niche involvement (N=18) had a significantly distinct pattern, enriched in mutations related to apoptosis defects (TP53 (39%), BCL2 (28%), BIRC6 (22%)) and depleted in GNA13, XPO1or NFKB signaling pathway mutations (TNFAIP3, NFKBIE, IKBKB, NFKBIA). They also presented more BCL2/BCL6 rearrangements as opposed to thymic GZL. Poly-EBV-L cases presented a distinct mutational profile including STAT3 mutations and a significantly lower coding-mutation load in comparison to EBV-negative GZL. Our study highlights characteristic mutational patterns in GZL associated with presentation in the thymic niche suggesting a common cell of origin with disease evolution overlapping with related anterior mediastinal lymphomas.

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