Abstract

The existence of stereotyped B cell receptor immunoglobulins (BcR IG) in chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) strongly implicated antigen selection in disease ontogeny. We have previously shown that the stereotyped fraction encompasses ~30% of all CLL and includes multiple subsets with distinct BcR IG configuration and variable size. Eventually, certain major subsets emerged as distinct clinical entities, exemplified by subset #2 (IGHV3-21/IGLV3-21, ~2.5-3% of all CLL, mixed somatic hypermutation (SHM) status) of a particularly aggressive clinical course, thus, sharply contrasting subset #4 (IGHV4-34/IGKV2-30, ~1% of all CLL, mutated IGHV genes, M-CLL), a prototype for indolent disease. Here, taking advantage of a multi-institutional cohort of 21,123 CLL IG rearrangements, almost three times the size of the largest previous study, and the availability of validated, purpose-built immunoinformatics methods, we reappraised BcR IG stereotypy especially focusing on major subsets and the degree of their sequence similarity to related minor subsets. Stereotypy discovery was performed with ARResT/Teiresias, while stereotypy assignment to existing subsets previously deemed as major was performed with ARResT/AssignSubsets (http://bat.infspire.org/arrest/). In the present study, a subset was characterized as major if representing > 0.2% of the cohort (i.e. at least 50 cases). Minor subsets closely related to major ones (termed satellite) were identified applying the following criteria: (i) usage of IGHV genes from the same phylogenetic clan; (ii) VH CDR3 length difference ranging from -2 to +2 compared to the respective major subset; (iii) shared VH CDR3 sequence motif; and, (iv) -2 to +2 difference in the offset of the VH CDR3 motif compared to the respective major subset. In total, 7378/21123 (34.9%) IG sequences were grouped into subsets with stereotyped VH CDR3, with the previously characterized 19 major subsets accounting collectively for 2594 sequences (12.3%) of the cohort: of these, 12 included cases with unmutated IGHV genes (U-CLL), 6 concerned M-CLL and 1 (subset #2) included cases with mixed SHM status. Four additional subsets exceeded 50 cases, and, thus, were also considered as 'major'. These results reinforce the notion that not all CLL will end up being stereotyped but rather that a plateau for stereotypy exists at ~1/3 of the cohort. Subset #2 was the largest subset (n=572, 2.7%), while subset #1 (IGHV clan I (IGHV1,5,7 subgroups)/IGKV1(D)-39) was the most frequent subset within U-CLL (n=515, 2.4%) and subset #4 the most common M-CLL subset (n=192, 0.9%), hence displaying remarkable consistency regarding their frequency in all cohorts published since the pioneering studies. Altogether, Teiresias and AssignSubsets gave concordant results for previously identified major subsets, illustrating the validity of our approach. Satellite subsets were sought for individually for each major subset. In general, few satellite subsets were identified, most of which concerned U-CLL major subsets. That notwithstanding, notable cases of satellite subsets were exemplified by major subset #1 and its satellite subset #99 from which it differed only in VH CDR3 length (13 aminoacids in subset #1 versus 14 in subset #99); interestingly, both subsets displayed equally aggressive clinical course. Another example concerned subset #8 (IGHV4-39/IGKV1(D)-39, U-CLL), an aggressive subset with very high risk for Richter's transformation, that, except for a one-aminoacid difference in VH CDR3 length, was otherwise identical to satellite subset #215, also displaying clinical aggressiveness. Overall, our results confirm that major subsets can be robustly identified and are consistent in relative size, hence representing distinct disease subgroups amenable to compartmentalized research with the potential of overcoming the pronounced heterogeneity of CLL. Most major subsets display unique sequence motifs, however satellite subsets exist, especially within U-CLL. Considering ever-increasing evidence that major stereotyped subsets may represent distinct disease subgroups, the existence of satellite subsets reveals a novel aspect of repertoire restriction and has implications for refined molecular classification of CLL.

Disclosures

Shanafelt:Genentech: Research Funding; GlaxoSmithkKine: Research Funding; Celgene: Research Funding; Janssen: Research Funding; Pharmacyclics: Research Funding; Cephalon: Research Funding; Hospira: Research Funding. Gaidano:Roche: Consultancy, Honoraria, Speakers Bureau; Karyopharm: Consultancy, Honoraria; Morphosys: Consultancy, Honoraria; Gilead: Consultancy, Honoraria, Speakers Bureau; Janssen: Consultancy, Honoraria, Speakers Bureau; Novartis: Consultancy, Honoraria, Speakers Bureau. Niemann:Janssen: Consultancy; Abbvie: Consultancy; Roche: Consultancy; Gilead: Consultancy. Langerak:F. Hofmann-LaRoche, Genentech: Research Funding; InVivoScribe Technologies: Patents & Royalties: Royalties are provided to European Network (EuroClonality). Jaeger:Roche: Honoraria, Research Funding; Celgene: Honoraria, Research Funding. Kater:Celgene: Research Funding; Gilead: Research Funding; Janssen: Consultancy, Research Funding; Roche: Consultancy, Research Funding; Abbvie: Consultancy, Research Funding. Stilgenbauer:Amgen: Consultancy, Honoraria, Other: Travel grants, Research Funding; Gilead: Consultancy, Honoraria, Other: Travel grants , Research Funding; Genentech: Consultancy, Honoraria, Other: Travel grants , Research Funding; Celgene: Consultancy, Honoraria, Other: Travel grants , Research Funding; Boehringer Ingelheim: Consultancy, Honoraria, Other: Travel grants , Research Funding; Genzyme: Consultancy, Honoraria, Other: Travel grants , Research Funding; AbbVie: Consultancy, Honoraria, Other: Travel grants, Research Funding; GSK: Consultancy, Honoraria, Other: Travel grants , Research Funding; Janssen: Consultancy, Honoraria, Other: Travel grants , Research Funding; Mundipharma: Consultancy, Honoraria, Other: Travel grants , Research Funding; Novartis: Consultancy, Honoraria, Other: Travel grants , Research Funding; Pharmacyclics: Consultancy, Honoraria, Other: Travel grants , Research Funding; Hoffmann-La Roche: Consultancy, Honoraria, Other: Travel grants , Research Funding; Sanofi: Consultancy, Honoraria, Other: Travel grants , Research Funding. Hallek:Gilead: Consultancy, Honoraria, Other: travel support, Research Funding, Speakers Bureau; F. Hoffmann-LaRoche: Consultancy, Honoraria, Other: travel support, Research Funding, Speakers Bureau; Mundipharma: Consultancy, Honoraria, Other: travel support, Research Funding, Speakers Bureau; Celgene: Consultancy, Honoraria, Other: travel support, Research Funding, Speakers Bureau; AbbVie: Consultancy, Honoraria, Other: travel support, Research Funding, Speakers Bureau; Janssen-Cilag: Consultancy, Honoraria, Other: travel support, Research Funding, Speakers Bureau; Amgen: Consultancy, Honoraria, Other: travel support, Research Funding, Speakers Bureau. Rosenquist:Gilead Sciences: Speakers Bureau. Ghia:Gilead: Consultancy, Honoraria, Research Funding, Speakers Bureau; Janssen: Consultancy, Honoraria, Speakers Bureau; Roche: Honoraria, Research Funding; Adaptive: Consultancy; Abbvie: Consultancy, Honoraria. Stamatopoulos:Novartis: Honoraria, Research Funding; Abbvie: Honoraria, Other: Travel expenses; Janssen: Honoraria, Other: Travel expenses, Research Funding; Gilead: Consultancy, Honoraria, Research Funding.

Author notes

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Asterisk with author names denotes non-ASH members.