• Opportunity: abundant aberrant somatic hypermutation contributes to the promiscuity of MYC rearrangement partners in HGBCL-DH-BCL2

  • Motive: MYC rearrangement architecture in HGBCL-DH-BCL2 preserves expression of the B-cell receptor and BCL2 from the pre-existing IGH::BCL2

Rearrangements that place the oncogenes MYC, BCL2, or BCL6 adjacent to superenhancers are common in mature B-cell lymphomas. Lymphomas with diffuse large B-cell lymphoma (DLBCL) or high-grade morphology with both MYC and BCL2 rearrangements are classified as high-grade B-cell lymphoma with MYC and BCL2 rearrangements ("double hit": HGBCL-DH-BCL2) and are associated with aggressive disease and poor outcomes. Although it is established that MYC rearrangements involving immunoglobulin (IG) loci are associated with inferior outcomes relative to those involving other non-IG superenhancers, the frequency of, and mechanisms driving, IG vs non-IG MYC rearrangements have not been elucidated. Here we used custom targeted capture and/or whole genome sequencing to characterize oncogene rearrangements across 883 mature B-cell lymphomas including Burkitt lymphoma, follicular lymphoma, DLBCL, and HGBCL-DH-BCL2 tumors. We demonstrate that, while BCL2 rearrangement topology is consistent across entities, HGBCL-DH-BCL2 have distinct MYC rearrangement architecture relative to tumors with single MYC rearrangements or with both MYC and BCL6 rearrangements (HGBCL-DH-BCL6), including both a higher frequency of non-IG rearrangements and different architecture of MYC::IGH rearrangements. The distinct MYC rearrangement patterns in HGBCL-DH-BCL2 occur on the background of high levels of somatic hypermutation across MYC partner loci in HGBCL-DH-BCL2, creating more opportunity to form these rearrangements. Furthermore, because one IGH allele is already disrupted by the existing BCL2 rearrangement, the MYC rearrangement architecture in HGBCL-DH-BCL2 likely reflects selective pressure to preserve both BCL2 and B cell receptor expression. These data provide new mechanistic explanations for the distinct patterns of MYC rearrangements observed across different lymphoma entities.

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