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Correlation of RAS-Pathway Mutations and Spontaneous Myeloid Colony Growth

Correlation of RAS-Pathway Mutations and Spontaneous Myeloid Colony Growth with Progression and Transformation in Chronic Myelomonocytic Leukemia—A Retrospective Analysis in 337 Patients

Although the RAS-pathway has been implicated as an important driver in the pathogenesis of chronic myelomonocytic leukemia (CMML) a comprehensive study including molecular and functional analyses in patients with progression and transformation has not been performed. A close correlation between RASopathy gene mutations and spontaneous in vitro myeloid colony (CFU-GM) growth in CMML has been described. Molecular and/or functional analyses were performed in three cohorts of 337 CMML patients: in patients without (A, n = 236) and with (B, n = 61) progression/transformation during follow-up, and in patients already transformed at the time of sampling (C, n = 40 + 26 who were before in B). The frequencies of RAS-pathway mutations (variant allele frequency ≥ 20%) in cohorts A, B, and C were 30%, 47%, and 71% (p < 0.0001), and of high colony growth (≥20/105 peripheral blood mononuclear cells) 31%, 44%, and 80% (p < 0.0001), respectively. Increases in allele burden of RAS-pathway mutations and in numbers of spontaneously formed CFU-GM before and after transformation could be shown in individual patients. Finally, the presence of mutations in RASopathy genes as well as the presence of high colony growth prior to transformation was significantly associated with an increased risk of acute myeloid leukemia (AML) development. Together, RAS-pathway mutations in CMML correlate with an augmented autonomous expansion of neoplastic precursor cells and indicate an increased risk of AML development which may be relevant for targeted treatment strategies.

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