Identification of novel cluster groups in pediatric high-risk B-precursor acute lymphoblastic leukemia with gene expression profiling: correlation with genome-wide DNA copy number alterations, clinical characteristics, and outcome.
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To resolve the genetic heterogeneity within pediatric high-risk B-precursor acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL), a clinically defined poor-risk group with few known recurring cytogenetic abnormalities, we performed gene expression profiling in a cohort of 207 uniformly treated children with high-risk ALL. Expression profiles were correlated with genome-wide DNA copy number abnormalities and clinical and outcome features. Unsupervised clustering of gene expression profiling data revealed 8 unique cluster groups within these high-risk ALL patients, 2 of which were associated with known chromosomal translocations (t(1;19)(TCF3-PBX1) or MLL), and 6 of which lacked any previously known cytogenetic lesion. One unique cluster was characterized by high expression of distinct outlier genes AGAP1, CCNJ, CHST2/7, CLEC12A/B, and PTPRM; ERG DNA deletions; and 4-year relapse-free survival of 94.7% ± 5.1%, compared with 63.5% ± 3.7% for the cohort (P = .01). A second cluster, characterized by high expression of BMPR1B, CRLF2, GPR110, and MUC4; frequent deletion of EBF1, IKZF1, RAG1-2, and IL3RA-CSF2RA; JAK mutations and CRLF2 rearrangements (P < .0001); and Hispanic ethnicity (P < .001) had a very poor 4-year relapse-free survival (21.0% ± 9.5%; P < .001). These studies reveal striking clinical and genetic heterogeneity in high-risk ALL and point to novel genes that may serve as new targets for diagnosis, risk classification, and therapy.