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Blood. 2011 Sep 15;118(11):3080-7. doi: 10.1182/blood-2011-03-341412. Epub 2011 Jun 16.

Key pathways are frequently mutated in high-risk childhood acute lymphoblastic leukemia: a report from the Children's Oncology Group.

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  • 1St Jude Children's Research Hospital, Memphis, TN, USA.


We sequenced 120 candidate genes in 187 high-risk childhood B-precursor acute lymphoblastic leukemias, the largest pediatric cancer genome sequencing effort reported to date. Integrated analysis of 179 validated somatic sequence mutations with genome-wide copy number alterations and gene expression profiles revealed a high frequency of recurrent somatic alterations in key signaling pathways, including B-cell development/differentiation (68% of cases), the TP53/RB tumor suppressor pathway (54%), Ras signaling (50%), and Janus kinases (11%). Recurrent mutations were also found in ETV6 (6 cases), TBL1XR1 (3), CREBBP (3), MUC4 (2), ASMTL (2), and ADARB2 (2). The frequency of mutations within the 4 major pathways varied markedly across genetic subtypes. Among 23 leukemias expressing a BCR-ABL1-like gene expression profile, 96% had somatic alterations in B-cell development/differentiation, 57% in JAK, and 52% in both pathways, whereas only 9% had Ras pathway mutations. In contrast, 21 cases defined by a distinct gene expression profile coupled with focal ERG deletion rarely had B-cell development/differentiation or JAK kinase alterations but had a high frequency (62%) of Ras signaling pathway mutations. These data extend the range of genes that are recurrently mutated in high-risk childhood B-precursor acute lymphoblastic leukemia and highlight important new therapeutic targets for selected patient subsets.

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