The clonal origins of leukemic progression of myelodysplasia

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The genetics behind the progression of myelodysplasia to secondary acute myeloid leukemia (sAML) is poorly understood. In this study, we profiled somatic mutations and their dynamics using next generation sequencing on serial samples from a total of 124 patients, consisting of a 31 patient discovery cohort and 93 patients from two validation cohorts. Whole-exome analysis on the discovery cohort revealed that 29 of 31 patients carry mutations related to at least one of eight commonly mutated pathways in AML. Mutations in genes related to DNA methylation and splicing machinery were found in T-cell samples, which expand at the initial diagnosis of the myelodysplasia, suggesting their importance as early disease events. On the other hand, somatic variants associated with signaling pathways arise or their allelic burdens expand significantly during progression. Our results indicate a strong association between mutations in activated signaling pathways and sAML progression. Overall, we demonstrate that distinct categories of genetic lesions play roles at different stages of sAML in a generally fixed order.

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