Germline heterozygous mutations in GATA2 have been reported to cause familial myelodysplasia–acute myeloid leukemia (MDS/AML), monocytopenia and mycobacterial infection (monoMAC syndrome), dendritic cell, myeloid and NK cell lymphopenia (DCML), and Emberger syndrome (lymphedema and MDS). GATA2 is a zinc finger transcription factor that plays a crucial role in regulating growth of hematopoietic progenitors. In some pedigrees, patients or family members have manifestations of bone marrow failure. We hypothesized that patients with aplastic anemia (AA) may harbor mutations in GATA2. The coding regions and regulatory regions of GATA2 were sequenced in 99 patients with confirmed AA. Sequences from 100 normal individuals as well as published human genomes from unaffected individuals (dbSNP build 135 and 1000 Genomes Project) were used as controls. Genetic variants were confirmed in hematopoietic and somatic tissues.
We identified 4 heterozygous mutations in regulatory regions of GATA2 in 5 patients. In two patients, a mutation at nucleotide 59T>G in exon 1 of isoform 2 was identified; both had severe AA in early adulthood refractory to immunosuppressive therapy. We noted this 59T>G mutation in two unrelated individuals with severe disseminated mycobacterial disease. We identified a mutation at nucleotide 20G>A in exon 2 of isoform 1, in a 3 year-old male with hepatitis-associated severe AA whose disease was refractory to multiple rounds of immunosuppressive therapy. Another mutation was present in 38G>A in exon 2 of isoform 1 in a 32 year old male with moderate AA and paroxysmal nocturnal hemoglobinuria (PNH). We also identified the exon 2 38G>A mutation in a patient with disseminated mycobacterial disease where reduced transcription of the mutant 38G>A allele was noted on RT-PCR. Finally, an intron 5, c.512+573 G>A variant was identified in an 18 year old male with severe AA who progressed after immunosuppressive therapy to MDS/AML. This variant, which causes a disruption of the FLI1 binding site, has also been found to be pathogenic in monoMAC syndrome.
In summary, a subset of patients with AA were found to have mutations in GATA2 suggesting a role for the gene in the pathogenesis of bone marrow failure. It also may identify patients at higher risk of infectious complications, those who may have less advantageous responses to immune suppression, and command earlier bone marrow transplantation.
No relevant conflicts of interest to declare.
Asterisk with author names denotes non-ASH members.