Severe congenital neutropenia (CN) is a preleukemic bone marrow failure syndrome with a 20% risk of evolving into leukemia or myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS). Patterns of acquisition of leukemia-associated mutations were investigated using next-generation deep-sequencing in 31 CN patients who developed leukemia or MDS. Twenty (64.5%) of the 31 patients had mutations in RUNX1. A majority of patients with RUNX1 mutations (80.5%) also had acquired CSF3R mutations. In contrast to their high frequency in CN patients who developed leukemia or MDS, RUNX1 mutations were found in only 9 of 307 (2.9%) patients with de novo pediatric acute myeloid leukemia. A sequential analysis at stages prior to overt leukemia revealed RUNX1 mutations to be late events in leukemic transformation. Single-cell analyses in 2 patients showed that RUNX1 and CSF3R mutations were present in the same malignant clone. Functional studies demonstrated elevated granulocyte colony-stimulating factor (G-CSF)-induced proliferation with diminished myeloid differentiation of hematopoietic CD34 + cells coexpressing mutated forms of RUNX1 and CSF3R. The high frequency of cooperating RUNX1 and CSF3R mutations in CN patients suggests a novel molecular pathway of leukemogenesis: mutations in the hematopoietic cytokine receptor (G-CSFR) in combination with the second mutations in the downstream hematopoietic transcription fator (RUNX1). The detection of both RUNX1 and CSF3R mutations could be used as a marker for identifying CN patients with a high risk of progressing to leukemia or MDS.,
Department of Pediatrics

Skokowa, J., Steinemann, D., Katsman-Kuipers, J., Zeidler, M., Klimenkova, O., Klimiankou, M., … Welte, K. (2014). Cooperativity of RUNX1 and CSF3R mutations in severe congenital neutropenia: A unique pathway in myeloid leukemogenesis. Blood, 123(14), 2229–2237. doi:10.1182/blood-2013-11-538025