Background:

Acute erythroid leukemia (AEL) is a rare subtype of AML characterized by erythroid predominant proliferation and classified into two subtypes with pure erythroid (PEL) and myeloid/erythroid (MEL) phenotypes. Although gene mutations in AEL have been described in several reports, genotype phenotype correlations are not fully understood with little knowledge about the feasible molecular targets for therapy.

Methods:

To understand the mechanism of the erythroid dominant phenotype of AEL and identify potential therapeutic targets for AEL, we analyzed a total of 105 AEL cases with the median age of 60 (23-86), using targeted-capture sequencing of commonly mutated genes in myeloid neoplasms, together with 1,279 SNPs for copy number measurements. Among these 105 cases, 13 were also analyzed by RNA sequencing. Genetic profiles of these 105 AEL cases were compared to those of 775 cases with non-erythroid AML (NEL) including 561 cases from The Cancer Genome Atlas and Beat AML study. An immature erythroid cell line (TF1) and three patient-derived xenografts (PDX) established from AEL with JAK2 and/or EPOR amplification. Cell line and samples from patients were inoculated into immune-deficient mice and tested for their response to JAK1/2 inhibitor.

Results:

According to unique genetic alterations, AEL was classified into 4 subgroups (A-D). Characterized by TP53 mutations and complex karyotype, Group A was the most common subtype and showed very poor prognosis. Remarkably, all PEL cases were categorized into Group A. Conspicuously, 80% of PEL cases had amplifications of JAK2 (6/10; 60%), EPOR (7/10;70%), and ERG (6/10;60%) loci on chromosomes 9p, 19q, and 21q, respectively, frequently in combination, although they were rarely seen in NEL cases. All cases in Group B (n=19, 18%), another prevalent form of AEL, had STAG2 mutations and classified in MEL. To further characterize this subgroup, we compared genetic profiles of STAG2-mutated AEL and NEL. Prominently, 70% (14/20) of STAG2-mutated cases in AEL had KMT2A-PTD, whereas it was found only in 8.8% (3/34) of NEL. CEBPA mutations were also more common in AEL (6/21; 29%) than NEL (4/34; 12%). While Group C was characterized by frequent NPM1 mutations, in contrast to the frequent co-mutation of FLT3 in the corresponding subgroup of NPM1-mutated cases in NEL, NPM1-mutated patents in this subgroup lacked FLT3 mutations but had frequent PTPN11 mutations (8/16; 50%), which were much less common in NEL (25/209; 12%). The remaining cases were categorized into Group D, which was enriched for mutations in ASXL1, BCOR, PHF6, U2AF1 and KMT2C. Recurrent loss-of-function mutations in USP9X were unique to this subtype, although USP9X mutations have been reported in ALL with upregulation of JAK-STAT pathway. In RNA sequencing analysis, AEL cases exhibited gene expression profiles implicated in an upregulated STAT5 signaling pathway, which was seen not only those cases with JAK2 or EPOR amplification, but also those without, suggesting that aberrantly upregulated STAT5 activation might represent a common defect in AEL. Based on this finding, we evaluated the effect of a JAK inhibitior, ruxolitinib, on an AEL-derived cell line and three PDX models established from AEL having TP53 mutations and JAK2 and EPOR mutation/amplification. Of interest, ruxolitinib significantly suppressed cell growth and prolonged overall survival in mice engrafted with TF1 and 2 PDX models with STAT5 downregulation, although the other model was resistant to JAK2 inhibition with persistent STAT5 activation.

Conclusion:

AEL is a heterogeneous group of AML, of which PEL is characterized by frequent amplifications/mutations in JAK2, EPOR and/or ERG. Frequent involvement of EPOR/JAK/STAT pathway is a common feature of AEL, in which a role of JAK inhibition was suggested.

Disclosures

Yoda:Chordia Therapeutics Inc.: Research Funding. Shih:Novartis: Research Funding; Celgene: Research Funding; PharmaEssentia: Consultancy, Membership on an entity's Board of Directors or advisory committees; Bristol-Myers Squibb: Consultancy, Membership on an entity's Board of Directors or advisory committees. Ishiyama:Alexion: Research Funding; Novartis: Honoraria. Miyazaki:Astellas Pharma Inc.: Honoraria; Sumitomo Dainippon Pharma Co., Ltd.: Honoraria; NIPPON SHINYAKU CO.,LTD.: Honoraria; Celgene: Honoraria; Otsuka Pharmaceutical: Honoraria; Chugai Pharmaceutical Co., Ltd.: Honoraria; Novartis Pharma KK: Honoraria; Kyowa Kirin Co., Ltd.: Honoraria. Nakagawa:Sumitomo Dainippon Pharma Co., Ltd.: Research Funding. Takaori-Kondo:Celgene: Honoraria, Research Funding; Ono Pharmaceutical: Research Funding; Thyas Co. Ltd.: Research Funding; Takeda: Research Funding; CHUGAI: Research Funding; OHARA Pharmaceutical: Research Funding; Sanofi: Research Funding; Novartis Pharma: Honoraria; Bristol-Myers Squibb: Honoraria, Research Funding; Pfizer: Research Funding; Otsuka Pharmaceutical: Research Funding; Eisai: Research Funding; Astellas Pharma: Honoraria, Research Funding; Kyowa Kirin: Honoraria, Research Funding; Nippon Shinyaku: Research Funding; MSD: Honoraria. Kataoka:Asahi Genomics: Current equity holder in private company; Otsuka Pharmaceutical: Research Funding; Takeda Pharmaceutical Company: Research Funding; CHUGAI PHARMACEUTICAL CO., LTD.: Research Funding. Usuki:Alexion: Research Funding, Speakers Bureau; Apellis: Research Funding; Novartis: Research Funding, Speakers Bureau; Chugai: Research Funding. Maciejewski:Novartis, Roche: Consultancy, Honoraria; Alexion, BMS: Speakers Bureau. Ganser:Novartis: Consultancy; Celgene: Consultancy. Thol:Daiichi Sankyo: Membership on an entity's Board of Directors or advisory committees; Pfizer: Membership on an entity's Board of Directors or advisory committees; Astellas: Membership on an entity's Board of Directors or advisory committees; Abbvie: Membership on an entity's Board of Directors or advisory committees; Celgene: Membership on an entity's Board of Directors or advisory committees. Ogawa:Sumitomo Dainippon Pharma Co., Ltd.: Research Funding; Otsuka Pharmaceutical Co., Ltd.: Research Funding; Asahi Genomics Co., Ltd.: Current equity holder in private company; Eisai Co., Ltd.: Research Funding; Chordia Therapeutics, Inc.: Membership on an entity's Board of Directors or advisory committees, Research Funding; KAN Research Institute, Inc.: Membership on an entity's Board of Directors or advisory committees, Research Funding.

OffLabel Disclosure:

Ruxolitinib is used for drug efficacy test using patient-derived xenografts established from acute erythroid leukemia.

Author notes

*

Asterisk with author names denotes non-ASH members.