Evolutionary trajectories of hyperdiploid ALL in monozygotic twins

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Identical twins have provided unique insights on timing or sequence of genetic events in acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (ALL). To date, this has mainly focused on ALL with MLL or ETV6-RUNX1 fusions, with hyperdiploid ALL remaining less well characterised. We examined three pairs of monozygotic twins, two concordant and one discordant for hyperdiploid ALL, for single-nucleotide polymorphism (SNP)-defined copy number alterations (CNAs), IGH/L plus TCR gene rearrangements and mutations in NRAS, KRAS, FLT3 and PTPN11 genes. We performed whole exome sequencing in one concordant twin pair. Potential ‘driver’ CNAs were low, 0-3 per case, and all were different within a pair. One patient had an NRAS mutation that was lacking from leukaemic cells of the twin sibling. By exome sequencing, there were 12 nonsynonymous mutations found in one twin and 5 in the other, one of which in SCL44A2 was shared or identical. Concordant pairs had some identical IGH/L and TCR rearrangements. In the twin pair with discordant hyperdiploid ALL, the healthy co-twin had persistent low level hyperdiploid CD19+ cells that lacked a CNA present in the ALL cells of her sibling. From these data, we propose that hyperdiploid ALL arises in a pre-B cell in utero and mutational changes necessary for clinical ALL accumulate subclonally and postnatally.

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