& I. Somekh and B. Marquardt contributed equally
§ C. Klein and R. Somech contributed equally
RAS guanyl-releasing protein 1 (RASGRP1) deficiency has recently been shown to cause a primary immunodeficiency disorder in one patient (Salzer et al, Nat Immunol 2016). Clinically, the disease was characterized by recurrent episodes of pneumonia, bronchiectasis, severe failure to thrive, CD4 T-cell lymphopenia, elevated TCRγδ cell proportions as well as low-grade Epstein-Barr virus (EBV)-associated B cell lymphoma. Immunologically, RASGRP1 deficiency is associated with defective proliferation and activation of T and B cells, respectively. Here, we report 3 novel patients with RASGRP1 deficiency from 2 unrelated consanguineous kindred.
One patient of Turkish origin (P1) and 2 Palestinian 1st degree cousins (P2, P3) were evaluated. Genetic analysis using whole exome sequencing was conducted. Immunological and biochemical assays were performed on primary patient material and genetically engineered T-cell lines using CRISPR/Cas9.
Clinical findings for all three patients included failure to thrive, hepatosplenomegaly, lymphadenopathy, and recurrent pulmonary infections resulting in bronchiectasia. Two patients had overt auto-immunity (AIHA and autoimmune thrombocytopenia, respectively). One patient had increased anti-nuclear antibody titers. One patient (P1) developed EBV-associated diffuse large B cell lymphoma. He underwent autologous hematopoietic stem cell transplant due to relapse after combined rituximab and NHL-BFM-90 treatment protocol and is currently in remission at the age of 14 years. P2 had deceased at the age of 3 years due to disseminated intravascular coagulation. P3 developed diffuse large B cell lymphoma at the age of 3 years, treated with R-CHOP protocol and is currently in remission.
Immune workup of P2 and P3 revealed low levels of T-cell receptor excision circles (TREC), an abnormal T-cell receptor (TCR) Vß repertoire and a markedly increased proportion of TCRγδ cells. Phytohemagglutinin (PHA)-induced lymphocyte proliferation and anti-CD3 mitogen proliferation responses were decreased. EBV-viral load in peripheral blood was elevated for both patients, as measured by PCR.
Genetic analysis by whole exome sequencing identified an autosomal recessive homozygous mutations in RASGRP1. P1 had an inversion (c.649_650inv; p.Glu217Ser) and P2/P3 had a deleterious frameshift mutation (c.1111_1114del; p.Asp371Ilefs*7). The variants were confirmed by Sanger sequencing and segregated with the disease phenotype. To confirm the functional relevance of the RASGRP1 mutations, we engineered Jurkat cells via CRISPR/Cas9 editing. RASGRP1 -/- Jurkat cells showed decreased phosphorylation of ERK1/2 and decreased CD69 expression in comparison to wildtype cells. Jurkat cells with RASGRP1 knockin mutants are currently under analysis.
RASGRP1 deficiency is a novel primary immunodeficiency disorder associated with immune dysregulation and susceptibility to EBV-induced B-cell malignancies. Early diagnosis of RASGRP1 deficiency is critical. Even though clinical remission of EBV-lymphoma may be reached using high dose chemotherapy regimens, long term cures may only be reached by allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplantation.
No relevant conflicts of interest to declare.
Asterisk with author names denotes non-ASH members.