IGHV3-21 gene expression in patients with B-cell chronic lymphocytic leukemia in Ukraine

Abramenko I., Bilous N.I., Kryachok I., Filonenko I., Pilipenko G.V., Chumak A.A., Bebeshko V.

The aim of the study was to evaluate the frequency of IGHV3-21 gene usage and its clinical significance for patients with B-cell chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) in Ukraine. Patients and Methods: Immunoglobulin variable heavy chain (IGHV) gene repertoire was studied in 189 CLL patients using reverse transcribed polymerase chain reaction and direct sequence of amplified products. Results: IGHV3-21 gene expression was found in 11 cases (5.8%), and its frequency was intermediate between Scandinavian (11.7%) and Mediterranean CLL (2.9%) cohorts. The most of cases (9 of 11) belonged to subset with heterogeneous HCDR3 (heteroHCDR3 subset), and only 2 cases – to subset with classical short ARDANGMDV motif (homHCDR3 subset). Six IGHV3-21 cases were mutated and 5 cases were unmutated. All unmutated cases (all were from heteroHCDR3 subset) had similarity of their HCDR3s with previously published sequences. The differences in overall (OS), progression-free (PFS) and treatment-free survival (TFS) for IGHV3-21 positive patients in comparison with CLL patients expressing the other IGHV genes were statistically insignificant. These survival parameters were comparable also for CLL patients with mutated IGHV3-21 gene usage and expression the others mutated IGHV genes. But remarkable feature of IGHV3-21 expressing patients was high incidence of solid tumors. They have developed in 4 IGHV3-21 positive cases (36.4%) and in 10 cases with expression of the others IGHV genes (5.6%, p = 0.0002). Furthermore, in small group of 6 patients with mutated IGHV3-21 gene expression, 3 patients had solid tumors and one underwent Richter transformation. Unmutated IGHV3-21 gene expressed patients had worse OS and PFS in comparison with CLL patients that expressed the others unmutated IGHV genes. Conclusion: Presented data are in agrement with the opinion about negative prognostic significance of IGHV3-21 gene expression regardless its mutation status. IGHV3-21 expression was associated with development of secondary solid tumors. Revealed high level of homology in heteroHDR3s subset might suggest about possible antigenic influence also, in addition to homHCDR3 subset that was proposed earlier

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