Molecular pathogenesis of acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) has largely been verified in pediatric patients and the identification of genetic alterations have contributed to stratifying therapeutic applications. In adult patients with ALL, cytogenetic and genetic abnormalities have not sufficiently been elucidated and therapeutic improvement has been hindered. CREB binding protein (CREBBP) is a transcriptional coactivator that interacts with a diverse range of transcription factors and regulates transcription by histone acetylation in hematopoiesis. Mutations of the CREBBP gene are recently found in approximately 2–4% of pediatric patients with ALL. Especially in relapsed cases, the mutations prevail (18–63%) and are possible markers for prediction of relapse in pediatric ALL. In adult patients with ALL, the clinical significance of CREBBP mutations remains to be determined. Here we examined adult ALL patients in an attempt to determine the incidence, clinical characteristics and prognostic impact of the CREBBP mutations.
We investigated 71 adult patients with newly diagnosed ALL treated with JALSG protocols between 1986 and 2010. Age ranged from 15 to 86 years, with a median of 54 years. CREBBP mutations are dominantly identified in histone acetyltransferase (HAT) domain. HAT domain in the CREBBP gene was amplified with RT-PCR using RNA isolated from the peripheral blood or bone marrow mononuclear cells at diagnosis and was subjected to direct sequencing. We compared clinical profiles between patients with and without CREBBPHAT domain mutations. This study was approved by the Institutional Review Boards and informed consent was obtained from each patient according to guidelines based on the revised Declaration of Helsinki.
CREBBP HAT domain mutations were detected in 8 of 71 (11.3%) patients: one nonsense mutation, five insertion mutations with frameshifts, and five missense mutations. Two patients harbored biallelic mutations. The mutations at diagnosis in adult patients were seen more frequently than those in pediatric patients ever reported. Such mutations were not completely identical to those detected in pediatric ALL, but were seen in the region within the HAT domain, indicating that such mutations are loss-of-function mutations. The mutations were found in both B-cell (6/53: 11.3%) and T-cell (1/9: 11.1%) ALL, and distributed in patients harboring IKZF1 alterations (3/31: 9.7%) or the BCR-ABL fusion gene (2/19: 10.5%). There were no statistical difference in age, sex, leukocyte, platelet counts and complete remission rate between patients with and without the CREBBP HAT domain mutations. Patients with the mutations had a trend with worse cumulative incidence of relapse (P=0.4637), relapse-free survival (P=0.4195) and OS (P=0.2349) compared to patients lacking the mutations, but statistical significance was not detected in this small cohort.
CREBBP HAT domain mutations at diagnosis in adult ALL are found more frequently than in pediatric ALL. This may be one of the mechanisms that adult ALL has been associated with poor OS compared with pediatric ALL. In this study, CREBBP HAT domain mutations were observed in various subtypes of ALL: both B-cell and T-cell ALL, and both Philadelphia chromosome positive and negative ALL. In pediatric ALL, CREBBP mutations were frequently seen in relapsed patients but not in previously untreated patients. These observations suggest that CREBBP mutations play an important role in an additional late event(s) leading to the development and progression of ALL. Our study implies the possibility that mutations of the CREBBP gene are associated with the pathogenesis and prognostic marker of adult ALL and represent specific epigenetic modifiers in adult ALL, serving as potential therapeutic targets.
No relevant conflicts of interest to declare.
Asterisk with author names denotes non-ASH members.