Nature and nurture: a case of transcending haematological pre-malignancies in a pair of monozygotic twins adding possible clues on the pathogenesis of B-cell proliferations

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Abstract

Summary

We describe a comprehensive molecular analysis of a pair of monozygotic twins, who came to our attention when one experienced amaurosis fugax and was diagnosed with JAK2+ polycythaemia vera. He (Twin A) was also found to have an asymptomatic B-cell chronic lymphocytic leukaemia (B-CLL). Although JAK2−, Twin B was subsequently shown to have a benign monoclonal B-cell lymphocytosis (MBL). Flow cytometric and molecular analyses of the B-cell compartments revealed different immunoglobulin light and heavy chain usage in each twin. We hypothesized that whole exome sequencing could help delineating the pattern of germline B-cell disorder susceptibility and reveal somatic mutations potentially contributing to the differential patterns of pre-malignancy. Comparing bone marrow cells and T cells and employing in-house engineered integrative analysis, we found aberrations in Twin A consistent with a myeloid neoplasm, i.e. in TET2, RUNX1, PLCB1 and ELF4. Employing the method for detecting high-ranking variants by extensive annotation and relevance scoring, we also identified shared germline variants in genes of proteins interacting with B-cell receptor signalling mediators and the WNT-pathway, including IRF8, PTPRO, BCL9L, SIT1 and SIRPB1, all with possible implications in B-cell proliferation. Similar patterns of IGHV-gene usage to those demonstrated here have been observed in inherited acute lymphoblastic leukaemia. Collectively, these findings may help in facilitating identification of putative master gene(s) involved in B-cell proliferations in general and MBL and B-CLL in particular.

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