Both genome wide association studies (GWAS) of common variation and exome wide association studies (EXWAS) of rare variation have successfully identified disease susceptibility variants for a variety of diseases. One GWAS of inherited susceptibility to Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML) has been conducted, but no EXWAS have been performed to measure risk of AML attributable to low-frequency constitutional genetic variation. We performed the first EXWAS of risk of AML as a nested case-control study in the DISCOVeRY-BMT (Determining the Influence of Susceptibility Conveying Variants Related to one-Year mortality after BMT) cohorts. The DISCOVeRY-BMT parent study examined transplant-related mortality in leukemia patients undergoing unrelated donor allogeneic BMT.
To identify low frequency variants and genes contributing to increased susceptibility to AML we used genotype data from the Illumina HumanExome BeadChip typed in the DISCOVeRY-BMT cohorts; the HumanExome BeadChip contains 242,901 variants, which are mainly protein-coding variants. The optimal sequence kernel association test (SKAT-O) was used to analyze gene-level associations with risk of AML. These gene-based tests evaluate the cumulative effects of multiple single gene variants on risk of AML. Analyses were performed in all European American AML cases and two subtypes: 1) de novo AML, 2) de novo AML with normal cytogenetics. Models were adjusted for age at transplant and principal components to control for population stratification. For gene-based tests at least 2 variants with minor allele frequency (MAF) ≤ 5%, were required to be present in the gene. This yielded a total of 13,687 genes tested, and a Bonferroni corrected significance level of P<3.65 x 10-6. Association tests were performed in 1,189 AML cases reported to CIBMTR 2000-08 (Cohort 1) and 327 AML cases reported to CIBMTR from 2009-11 (Cohort 2). Controls in Cohorts 1 (n=1,986) and 2 (n= 515) were 10/10 HLA-matched unrelated donors who passed a comprehensive medical exam and deemed healthy. We used metaSKAT to combine Cohorts 1 and 2 and obtain p-values of association with AML. We present the results of gene-level tests significant in both cohorts. The likely pathogenicity of these variants was determined in silico using SIFT, PolyPhen and MutationTaster.
Patient characteristics are in Table 1. DNMT3A, on chromosome 2, was associated in the gene-based test with risk of AML (Pmeta=1.70x10-9, Table 2). Three missense variants at MAF <1% comprise both overall AML and de novo AML gene-based association: exm177559 (Asn->Ser), exm177507 (Arg->His), and exm177543 (Arg->Trp). Normal cytogenetics de novo AML gene-based assocations consisted of only 2 of these variants: exm177559 and exm177507 (Table 2). While prevalence of exm177507 is <1% for all AML cases, in de novo AML with normal cytogenetics the MAF was higher at 3%. The other 2 variants had a MAF<1% irrespective of subtype. Somatically, DNMT3A is most frequently mutated in hematologic malignancies, with >30% of de novo AML cases with a normal karyotype and >10% of MDS patients having DNMT3A mutations. Although these are germline gene associations all three of the variants found have been reported somatically in hematologic malignancies. In 200 AML cases from The Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA) p.R882H (represented as exm177507 on the exome chip) was a frequent somatic mutation (25%). Exm177543 (p.R635W) and exm177559 (p.N501S) are reported in the Catalogue of Somatic Mutations in Cancer (COSMIC) as somatic mutations involved in hematopoietic and lymphoid tissue in both cell lines and humans. Exm177507 and exm177543 show evidence of pathogenicity in all three in silico tools, while exm177559 was reported as deleterious and disease causing by Sift and MutationTaster, respectively.
Our results show that multiple potentially pathogenic missense germline variants in DNMT3A comprise the gene-based association with AML, specifically de novo AML with normal cytogenetics. Given the functional nature of these variants it is possible germline risk stratification could be informative in determining AML risk, and subsequently development of AML harboring DNMT3A mutations. Confirmation of these findings in additional cohorts could have implications for individualized risk screening, prediction and prognosis. Additional cytogenetic subgroup analyses, including treatment-related AML, are underway.
Hahn:Novartis: Equity Ownership; NIH: Research Funding. McCarthy:Sanofi: Honoraria, Membership on an entity's Board of Directors or advisory committees; Celgene: Honoraria, Membership on an entity's Board of Directors or advisory committees, Research Funding; Janssen: Honoraria, Membership on an entity's Board of Directors or advisory committees; Onyx: Honoraria, Membership on an entity's Board of Directors or advisory committees; Bristol Myers Squibb: Honoraria, Membership on an entity's Board of Directors or advisory committees; The Binding Site: Honoraria, Membership on an entity's Board of Directors or advisory committees; Karyopharm: Honoraria, Membership on an entity's Board of Directors or advisory committees; Gamida Cell: Honoraria, Membership on an entity's Board of Directors or advisory committees. Sucheston-Campbell:NIH/NCI: Research Funding.
Asterisk with author names denotes non-ASH members.