Over 20 different fusion partner genes of NUP98 have been reported in hematological malignancies with the majority of NUP98 fusions occurring in acute myeloid leukemia (AML). Recently, a specific fusion of NUP98 with Nuclear receptor-binding SET domain protein 1 (NSD1) has been analyzed in a large cohort of pediatric and adult AML patients. In this report, 16.1% of pediatric AML samples and 2.3% of adult cytogentically normal (CN)-AML cases were found to be NUP98/NSD1-positive. NUP98/NSD1-positive patients had an adverse outcome. The aim of our study was to investigate the frequency, clinical features and the prognostic impact of NUP98/NSD1 in another large, uniformily treated adult AML cohort, and in patients with myelodysplastic syndromes, which frequently precede overt leukemia.
We studied 504 younger AML patients (<60 years) and 193 MDS patients for the presence of NUP98/NSD1 translocations.
Analysis in the AML cohort was also performed for mutations in FLT3-ITD, NPM1, DNMT3A, IDH1, IDH2. Additional mutation analyses were performed in the subgroup of CN-AML for CEBPA, MLL-PTD, WT1 and WT1 SNP rs16754, NRAS. The NUP98/NSD1 fusion was identified by a nested RT-PCR using patient-derived cDNA. cDNA from a patient with proven NUP98-NSD1 fusion was used as a positive control. NUP98/NSD1 fusions were identified in 7 out of 504 younger adult AML patients (1.4%) while the NUP98/NSD1 fusion was not found in any of the 193 MDS patients. In the AML cohort, NUP98/NSD1 positive patients showed a higher number of peripheral blood blasts (P=.002), while other clinical characteristics such as FAB-subtype, type of AML, hemoglobin levels, white cell count or platelet count did not significantly differ between patients with or without the NUP98/NSD1 fusion. The majority of NUP98/NSD1 positive patients (5 out of 7) showed a normal karyotype while one patient was found to have a del(9) and another patient an inv(3)(q21q26) with monosomy 7. We identified an association between FLT3-ITD and NUP98/NSD1 fusion in our cohort (P=.007, 5 patients with NUP98/NSD1 also had a FLT3-ITD). This finding confirms the data by Hollink et al. and suggests a possible functional link between FLT3-ITD and the NUP98/NSD1 fusion in leukemogenesis. NUP98/NSD1 fusions were not associated with other mutations like those suggested in epigenetic regulation (DNMT3A, IDH1 and IDH2). In CN-AML, we also looked for an association between BAALC, ERG, EVI1, MN1, MLL5 and WT1 expression but did not find a significant difference between the expression of these genes and NUP98/NSD1 fusion genes. Due to the low frequency of the aberration outcome analysis was performed for explorative purposes. Considering the whole AML cohort we did not detect a significant difference for OS and for RFS between NUP98/NSD1 positive and negative patients (OS, HR 1.6; 95%CI 0.66–3.88; P=.3; RFS, HR 2.33; 95%CI 0.74–7.30; P=.147). However, NUP98/NSD1 positive patients had significantly lower complete remission (CR) rates (43 vs. 77 percent, P=.037). When considering only patients with CN-AML the NUP98/NSD1 positive patients (n=5) had no significantly different OS and RFS (OS, HR 2.08; 95%CI 0.77–5.64; P=.15; RFS, HR 2.88; 95%CI 0.71–11.71; P=.14). Again, a significantly lower CR rate was observed in the NUP98/NSD1 positive patients compared to NUP98/NSD1 negative patients with CN-AML (40 vs. 80 percent, P=.03). Because of the association between FLT3-ITD and NUP98/NSD1 we also investigated the prognostic impact in the subgroup of CN-AML patients also positive for FLT3-ITD. Again, OS and RFS did not differ between NUP98/NSD1 positive and negative patients (OS, HR 1.31; 95%CI 0.47–3.64; P=.61; RFS, HR 2.04; 95%CI 0.49–8.57; P=.33). For this subgroup a trend towards a lower CR rate was observed for NUP98/NSD1 positive FLT3-ITD positive CN-AML patients (40 vs 75 percent, P=.08).
In summary, our analysis confirms the presence but low incidence of the NUP98/NSD1 fusion gene in adult AML patients and the strong association with FLT3-ITD. The specific association of NUP98/NSD1 with FLT3-ITD mutations warrants clinical investigation with FLT3 inhibitors in these patients.
No relevant conflicts of interest to declare.
Asterisk with author names denotes non-ASH members.