Events mediating transformation from pre-malignant MGUS to MM is currently not well defined. Recurrent genetic abnormalities such as t(11;14), t(4;14), hyperdiploidy and chromosome 13 deletion are already present in MGUS at relatively similar frequency to MM. The unified deregulation of D-type cyclins is also already present in MGUS. Previous GEP studies have revealed little differences between MGUS and MM. A more recent study using a large patient cohort and new generation Affymetrix genechip identifies an MGUS signature but the functional and biological significance underlying this signature is unknown. In the current study, we analyze a cohort of 22 MGUS and 101 MM from the Mayo Clinic with GEP performed on Affymetrix U133A genechip using gene set enrichment analysis, a method that analyze differentially expressed gene between 2 phenotypes of interest in the context of published or curated genesets that represent specific biological, chemical, or molecular perturbation to cells. This method increases the sensitivity of identifying low but significant changes in gene expression. We made further modification to the original method that allows assessment in individual samples rather than the average across a phenotype further increasing the specificity of the output. In this analysis, 313 genesets were significant enriched for genes over-expressed in MM compared to MGUS, representing potential activated pathways that mediate transformation. When MM samples and genesets were clustered using the enrichment score for each genesets and samples, 4 cluster of genesets emerged, one including a number of MYC genesets, one including a number of cell cycle related genesets, one including genesets related to metabolic activity and another including a number of IFN related genesets. Further dissection of these correlated genesets to identify common enriched genes (leading edge genes) led to identification of a MYC core signature, tRNA core signature, Proteosome core signature and metabolic core signature which are highly correlated. From known literature and biology, it is likely that MYC activation leads to downstream activation of protein synthesis (tRNA signature), degradation (proteasome signature), and metabolic pathway (metabolic signature). This is verified by GEP results from in vitro modulation of MYC activation in cell lines. In addition, a cell cycle core signature and IFN core signature was identified. Activation of IFN and MYC core signatures accounts for almost 90% of MM patients. The remaining patients have a metabolic signature without MYC or IFN activation. The activation of the different core signatures is significantly correlated with certain TC classes when assessed by Chi-Square test. IFN activation is significantly correlated with D1 subtypes and negatively correlated with D2 subtypes. MYC activation is negatively correlated with t(11;14). Similar patterns were observed in a validation dataset of 351 MM patients from UAMS (GSE2677) with GEP performed on the U133plus2.0 chip. These results are validated at the protein level using IHC on TMA of the Mayo cohort. The activation of the IFN and MYC pathway may represent predominant mechanism in MGUS to MM progression.

Disclosures: No relevant conflicts of interest to declare.

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