Mutations in genes of the splicing machinery, such as SF3B1, SRSF2 and U2AF35 are common in patients with myelodysplastic syndromes [MDS] (Nature 2011;478:64) and chronic myelomonocytic leukemia [CMML] (Haematologica 2012;Epub). In MDS, SRSF2 gene mutations are an independent risk factor for shortened over-all (OS) and leukemia-free survival (LFS) (Blood 2012;119:3578). In MDS with ring sideroblasts (RS), SF3B1 mutations have a high prevalence (∼50%), but do not influence either, the OS or the LFS (Blood 2012;119:569). We carried out this study to evaluate the prevalence, clinical correlates and prognosis of the aforementioned spliceosome mutations in CMML.
The study included 227 patients with WHO defined CMML who were seen at the Mayo Clinic from 1997 through 2007. All patients underwent bone marrow (BM) examination and cytogenetic evaluation at diagnosis. DNA was interrogated in the three most frequent spliceosome genes with somatic mutations; SRSF2, SF3B1 and U2AF35.
Prevalence and clinical correlates
Among the 227 study patients, 153 (67%) were male, median age was 71 years (range, 17–90 years) and 192 (85%) met the WHO criteria for CMML-1. Ninety (40%) patients had SRSF2 mutations (86% CMML-1), 13 (6%) had SF3B1 mutations (75% CMML-1) and 20 (9%) had U2AF35 mutations (95% CMML-1). One-hundred and twenty three (54%) patients had at least one of three spliceosome mutations (86% CMML-1). Mutational hot spots were P95 for SRSF2 (P95L-n=36/H-n=32/R-n=13/A-n=1), K700E (n=7) and H662Q (n=2) for SF3B1, and Q157 (Q157R-n=5/P-n=5/G-n=1) and S34F (n=7) for U2AF35. Seven patients (54%) with SF3B1 mutations had ≥1% RS, with 5 (38%) showing ≥15% RS. Mutations involving all three spliceosome genes were mutually exclusive. The cytogenetic distribution based on the Spanish risk stratification system (Haematologica 2011;96:375) was; SRSF2 mutations: 69 (77%) low risk, 11 (12%) intermediate risk, and 10 (11%) high risk (+8-n=3, del/monosomy 7-n=2, monosomal karyotype-n=5); SF3B1 mutations: 8 (62%) low risk and 5 (38%) intermediate risk; U2AF35 mutations: 15 (75%) low risk, 3 (15%) intermediate risk and 2 (10%) high risk (p=0.89). The distribution of mutations according to the MD Anderson prognostic scoring system [MDAPS] (Blood 2002;99:840) was; SRSF2 - low-n=41, intermediate-1-n=26, intermediate-2-n=18, high-n=5, SF3B1- low-n=7, intermediate-1-n=3, intermediate-2-n=2, high-n=1, and U2AF35- low-n=11, intermediate-1-n=5, intermediate-2-n=3, high-n=1 (p=0.73). There was no statistically significant difference, among the three mutation groups, in prognostically relevant parameters, including gender distribution, median age, hemoglobin values, platelet counts, peripheral blood (PB) and BM blast counts, absolute neutrophil counts (ANC) and absolute monocyte counts (AMC). The only notable difference was that patients with the SF3B1 mutation had a lower median white blood cell count (p=0.04) and a lower absolute lymphocyte count (p=0.045).
Prognostic impact of spliceosome mutations
At a median follow-up of 15 months, 166 (73%) deaths and 33 (14.5%) leukemic transformations were documented. Median survivals for patients with mutations involving SRSF2, SF3B1 and U2AF35 were 24, 17 and 12 months, respectively. In univariate analysis, the presence of SRSF2 (p=0.67), SF3B1 (p=0.96) or U2AF35 (p=0.49) mutations had no prognostic impact on OS. Similarly, none of the three spliceosome mutations affected LFS; corresponding p values were 0.55 for SRSF2, 0.9 for SF3B1 and 0.38 for U2AF35 mutations respectively. We then examined possible prognostic value of having none of these mutations (n=104) vs otherwise (n=123) and the results were once again negative (p=0.87).
SRSF2 is the most frequently mutated spliceosome gene in CMML, but neither it nor SF3B1 or U2AF35 mutations affect overall or leukemia-free survival in CMML. Furthermore, the current study suggests limited genotype-phenotype association, save for the already established association between SF3B1 mutations and RS.
No relevant conflicts of interest to declare.
Asterisk with author names denotes non-ASH members.