Insertional mutagenesis combined with acquired somatic mutations causes leukemogenesis following gene therapy of SCID-X1 patients
X-linked SCID (SCID-X1) is amenable to correction by gene therapy using conventional gammaretroviral vectors. Here, we describe the occurrence of clonal T cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia (T-ALL) promoted by insertional mutagenesis in a completed gene therapy trial of 10 SCID-X1 patients. Integration of the vector in an antisense orientation 35 kb upstream of the protooncogene LIM domain only 2 (LMO2) caused overexpression of LMO2 in the leukemic clone. However, leukemogenesis was likely precipitated by the acquisition of other genetic abnormalities unrelated to vector insertion, including a gain-of-function mutation in NOTCH1, deletion of the tumor suppressor gene locus cyclin-dependent kinase 2A (CDKN2A), and translocation of the TCR-β region to the STIL-TAL1 locus. These findings highlight a general toxicity of endogenous gammaretroviral enhancer elements and also identify a combinatorial process during leukemic evolution that will be important for risk stratification and for future protocol design.