Array-based Characterization of Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia : - with Focus on Subsets Carrying Stereotyped B-cell Receptors
Sammanfattning: In chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL), the presence of multiple subsets expressing ‘stereotyped’ B-cell receptors (BCRs) has implicated antigen(s) in leukemogenesis. These stereotyped subsets display similar immunoglobulin (IG) gene usage, almost identical complementarity determining region 3’s and may share clinical features. For instance, subsets #1 (IGHV1/5/7/IGKV1-39) and #2 (IGHV3-21/IGLV3-21) have inferior outcome compared to non-subset patients, whereas subset #4 (IGHV4-34/IGKV2-30) display a favourable prognosis. The aim of this thesis was to investigate genomic aberrations, gene expression patterns and methylation profiles in stereotyped subsets and compare epigenetic profiles in CLL and mantle cell lymphoma (MCL).In paper I, we investigated genomic aberrations in subsets #2, #4 and #16 and in non-stereotyped samples (n=101) using high-density 250K SNP arrays. Subset #2 and non-subset #2 IGHV3-21 cases displayed a higher frequency of aberrations than subset #4 cases. The high incidence of del(11q) in both subset #2/non-subset #2 may reflect the adverse survival reported for IGHV3-21 patients. In contrast, the lower frequency of genetic events and lack of poor-prognostic aberrations in subset #4 may partially explain their indolent disease. In paper II, we analysed the global RNA expression in subset #4, #16 and non-subset IGHV4-34 CLL patients (n=25). Subsets #4 and 16 showed distinct gene expression profiles, where genes involved in cell regulatory pathways were significantly lower expressed in subset #4, in line with their low-proliferative disease. In paper III, a genome-wide methylation array was applied to investigate methylation profiles in subsets #1, #2 and #4 (n=39). We identified differential methylation patterns for all subsets and found affected genes to be involved in e.g. apoptosis and therapy resistance. When performing functional annotation, a clear enrichment of genes involved in adaptive immunity was observed. These genes were preferentially methylated in subset #1 when compared to either subset #2 or #4, possibly due to different antigen responses. In paper IV, the genome-wide methylation profiles for 30 CLL and 20 MCL patients were investigated. Distinct methylation profiles were observed, where MCL displayed a more homogeneous profile. Homeobox transcription factor genes showed a higher degree of methylation in MCL, while apoptosis-related genes and proliferation-associated genes were methylated in CLL.In summary, this thesis demonstrates that stereotyped CLL subsets display differences in gene expression profiles, genetic aberrations and methylation patterns, underscoring the functional relevance of subgrouping according to BCR stereotypy. The distinct methylation profiles of CLL and MCL suggests that different epigenetic mechanisms are involved in the pathogenesis of these B-cell malignancies.
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