Follicular lymphoma (FL) constitutes the second most common non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma in the Western world. FL carries characteristic recurrent structural genomic aberrations. However despite recent advances, knowledge regarding the coding genome in FL is still evolving and is currently incomplete.


To further our understanding of the genetic basis of follicular lymphoma (FL), we used solution exon capture of sheared and processed genomic DNA isolated from FACS-sorted lymphomatous B-cells and paired CD3+ T-cells isolated from twenty three cases of FL and one case of DLBCL (which was transformed from prior FL), followed by paired-end (96-101 base pair read length per side) massively parallel sequencing. The sequence data were characterized by a mean depth of coverage of 41, and 90% of bases in the target region were covered by at least 10 reads. Bioinformatics pipelines developed by our bioinformatics core served as the primary data source to nominate candidate mutated genes in downstream data analysis.


The bioinformatics pipeline nominated 711 distinct candidate mutations in 24 FL cases. Sanger sequence validation confirmed 39 recurrently (≥ 2 FL cases) mutated genes. Genes with confirmed mutations in ≥ 2 FL cases in the discovery cohort were subsequently selectively expanded into a combined FL validation cohort of 114 cases. In addition to frequent mutations in MLL2, CREBBP, BCL2, TNFRSF14, EZH2, OCT2, ARID1A, IRF8 and MEF2B, we here report novel mutations in STAT6 in FL. STAT6 mutations were identified in 11% (12/114) of FL and predominantly affected the DNA binding domain (DBD; comprising STAT6 amino acids 268-430). Two FL cases each carried two distinct STAT6 mutations, presumably targeting both alleles. Of interest, the majority of FL-associated STAT6 mutations affected a single amino acid codon (codon 419), resulting in the STAT6 mutants p.419D>D/G or p.419D>D/H. These FL-associated STAT6 mutations are distinct from mutations previously described in primary mediastinal B-cell lymphoma (PMBCL).

Given the involvement of STAT6 in signal transduction pathways activated by multiple cell surface receptors, as well as the recently described involvement of STAT6 in antiviral innate immunity (involving an interaction between the STAT6 DBD and the protein STING), we are currently exploring functional consequences of the novel STAT6 mutations in FL and cell line models.


We report identification of somatic mutations in STAT6 in 11% of FL. These mutations predominantly affected the STAT6 DNA binding domain. We identify a novel STAT6 mutation hotspot in STAT6 codon 419 (p.419D>D/G or p.419D>D/H).


Lebovic:Genentech: Speakers Bureau; Allos/Spectrum: Speakers Bureau; Celgene: Speakers Bureau; Onyx: Speakers Bureau.

Author notes


Asterisk with author names denotes non-ASH members.

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